In the News: Christopher Mitchell
May 9th, 2018
Media Outlet: The Mercury News
The Portland Mercury News reporter Erik Henriksen wrote a comprehensive feature detailing the possibility of Portland, Oregon investing in a municipal broadband network for the city. In his coverage, Henriksen cites the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for the ways that major Internet Service Providers fight against municipal broadband.
Here are ILSR’s contributions:
Last year in Fort Collins, Colorado, a group backed by private ISPs, including Comcast, spent almost $1 million to fight a municipal broadband proposal.
“The big spenders were nonetheless defeated by a citizens’ group that spent only $15,000 to support the bond measure,” reported Fortune, “which passed with 57 percent of the vote… approving up to $150 million in financing for a city-run broadband utility.”
There’s a reason ISPs fought so hard: According to an estimate by the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “competition in Fort Collins would cost Comcast between $5.4 million and $22.8 million per year.”
ISPs also push for laws that prohibit and restrict municipal networks, often finding allies in conservative lawmakers. Twenty states “already have laws restricting municipal broadband in some way,” wrote Ars Technica last fall, “effectively shielding private broadband providers from competition even as many residents lack robust broadband options.”
These laws are generally sold under the guise of providing a “level playing field” and “fair competition” for ISPs.