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Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Matthew Marcus | No Comments | Updated on Feb 15, 2018

Want To Topple Telecom Oligopolies? Support Locally Owned Broadband

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/want-to-topple-telecom-oligopolies-support-locally-owned-broadband/

This article was originally published in Fast Company on January 19th, 2018.


Rural communities seeking better broadband have options beyond big telecom.

This past August, the residents of the Republican-leaning Michigan town of Lyndon Township overwhelmingly voted to raise their property taxes. What spurred this rural community to violate the core Republican tenant of minimal taxation?

Lack of high-speed internet access.

Speedy internet connections are easy to come by in cities and sprawling suburbs where big cable and telephone monopolies can expect a large return on their investment. But in many rural areas of the country, high-speed internet access is sparse–39% of rural Americans flat-out do not have broadband access.

That’s why Lyndon Township’s residents decided to fund a 3 million dollar broadband project, which increased their property taxes by over $20 per month on average. The end result will be a locally owned network offering a basic 100 Mbps fiber-to-the-home service, which is faster and more reliable than most cable services. As Ben Fineman, president of the Michigan Broadband Cooperative explained, “for people in a rural area, that’s far and away better than anything they can get today.”

This approach isn’t unique: At least 500 other counties and towns in the U.S. have taken steps to end their dependence on monopoly ISPs. Wilson, North Carolina, built their own fiber-optic network and high-speed internet service, defining it as a municipal utility like water or electricity. Westminster, Maryland, entered into an equitable public-private partnership where they own the fiber network infrastructure and lease portions of it to an independent ISP.

But most rural communities still have extremely limited and poor broadband options, if any at all. Only half of American households have access to two or more broadband providers. In Michigan, AT&T owns the majority of the market and is often the only ISP available. These minimally competitive regional markets leave monopoly ISPs with little incentive to improve service or lower prices. It’s an oligopoly, comprised of the nation’s largest telecommunication companies.

Lyndon Township, Michigan

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Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Feb 8, 2018

Loveland, Colorado City Council Moves Forward on Municipal Broadband Network Development

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/loveland-colorado-city-council-moves-forward-on-municipal-broadband-network-development/

In a series of decisions, Loveland, Colorado’s City Council voted earlier this week to take the next step toward developing a municipal broadband network. In addition to allocating funds to develop a business plan, city leadership established an advisory board, accepted task force recommendations, and voted to amended current code to allow the electric utility to handle communications activities. Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Feb 6, 2018

South Central Indiana Expects More Cooperative Fiber

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/south-central-indiana-expects-more-cooperative-fiber/

Rural electric cooperatives are laying fiber in South-Central Indiana, this is how the connecting of rural America is happening, thanks to cooperatives. Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Feb 7, 2018

Anti-Municipal Broadband “Concerned Citizens” Group Unmasked as Cable Company in West Plains, Mo.

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/anti-municipal-broadband-concerned-citizens-group-unmasked-as-cable-company-in-west-plains-mo/

In West Plains, Missouri a “citizens group” astroturfing the possibility of municipal fiber infrastructure investment was revealed to be… *gasp* the incumbent cable ISP in the community. Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Hannah Trostle | No Comments | Updated on Feb 5, 2018

Field Trip To Oklahoma’s Lake Region Electric Cooperative & Fiber Network

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/field-trip-to-oklahomas-lake-region-electric-cooperative-fiber-network/

Lake Region Electric Cooperative offers FTTH service to more than 1,000 homes in the rural communities around the city of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. As with electrification, the cooperative is once again providing a much needed utility where no private company would go. This is the internetification of rural America. Continue reading