To celebrate the launching of MuniNetworks.org, we wanted to highlight some of the best broadband available in the United States.
If you were looking for the best citywide broadband networks available in the United States, you would almost definitely find publicly owned networks. We just collected some data on top-performing networks in the U.S.
Though Comcast and Verizon have received a lot of attention for their investments in higher capacity networks, they still do not compare to some of the best community full fiber-to-the-home networks.
In comparing some of the fastest publicly owned broadband networks to some of the fastest national private sector networks, we found that the publicly owned networks offer more value per dollar. Update: A few weeks after this was published, Verizon upped its speeds and prices for several of the tiers.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the data are the baseline speeds available in Wilson North Carolina and Lafayette Louisiana. Lafayette offers a symmetrical 10Mbps connection for $28.95/month whereas Wilson charges $34.95.
I can only imagine how these networks have made their businesses more competitive while cutting telecom budgets for the schools and cities. Imagine being a business in Lafayette with a 50Mbps symmetrical connection when your competition is renting a T-1 at 1.5Mbps for $500/month. 30x the speed at 1/10th the cost. That is a competitive advantage.
In Utah, if Comcast has upgraded to DOCSIS 3 in that area, they'll be charging $140/month for a 50/10 connection when those in the UTOPIA footprint have access to a 100/100 connection for $147.
At least some communities across the U.S. are still competitive with the rest of the world when it comes to Mbps at affordable prices. There is still hope.
Blue River, Colorado is the latest Colorado municipality to explore building its own broadband network with an eye on affordable access. The town is part of a trend that’s only accelerated since the state eliminated industry-backed state level protections restricting community-owned broadband networks. Town leaders recently hired the consulting firm, NEO Connect, to explore the possibility of building a town-wide fiber network.
In 2021 West Springfield, Massachusetts announced it would be partnering with Westfield Gas and Electric, a publicly owned utility, to deliver its residents symmetrical gigabit fiber service. But efforts to launch the project have been on hold thanks to ongoing delays by Verizon and Eversource to prepare local utility poles for fiber attachment.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has introduced an ambitious new plan to incentivize private telecom providers to deliver affordable fiber to 85 percent of the Tennessee city of 633,000. The project, part of the city’s Memphis 3.0 master plan, will spend more than $700 million to expand broadband in a city where less than a quarter of residents–most of them wealthy–have access to next-generation fiber.
The city of Scranton, Pennsylvania has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for vendors that may be tasked with constructing an affordable citywide fiber network. City leaders say the RFQ is the opening chapter in a bid to bring affordable broadband access to city residents long neglected by dominant regional monopolies.
Syracuse officials have launched a new wireless community broadband network they hope will help bring affordable broadband access to the city of 145,000. Dubbed Surge Link, the effort is backed by more than $3.5 million in federal funding and aims to deliver free broadband access to the city’s lowest income neighborhoods. Using CBRS technology, Brooke Schneider, the city’s Senior Information Officer, told ILSR that Syracuse zeroed in on CBRS, in part, because “Fixed Wireless Access technology provides a quick time to market.”
With the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) poised to run out of funding in early Q2 next year, and no funding source lined up to keep the program alive, a recent U.S. News & World Report survey underscores the significance of the program in the face of rising prices from the nation’s major Internet Service Providers (ISPs).