A growing number of US cities have broken up monopoly control of the Internet marketplace locally. They’re promoting entrepreneurship, and giving residents and businesses real choice in how they connect and reach new audiences. They’ve brought a new wrinkle to an old model: the public-private partnership.
“Communities desperately need better Internet access, but not all local governments are bold enough to ‘go it alone,'” says Christopher Mitchell with Community Broadband Networks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Here, we’ve outlined a few remarkable cities who have demonstrated how smart strategies are helping them help themselves.”
A city that builds its own fiber and leases it to a trusted partner can negotiate for activities that benefit the public good, like universal access. It may even require (as Westminster, Maryland did) that the partner ISP have real human beings answer the phone to solve a customer’s problems.
The term “public-private partnership” has been muddied in the past. This report clears up the confusion: public entities and private companies must both have “skin in the game” to balance the risks and amplify the rewards.
- Partnerships in broadband have never been in greater vogue. Communities are realizing they don’t have to build it entirely themselves to get the benefits of gig networks in Chattanooga or Google cities.
- The report features the revolutionary Westminster/Ting partnership and notes its first copycat: Cruzio and the city of Santa Cruz. These networks are groundbreaking in terms of offering a “third way” for communities to join the ranks of gigabit cities.
- This report offers a roadmap for cities and outlines the important questions that need to be asked and answered in order to find the right partner with the right priorities for each community.