Many people have come to us for advice on how to get started on an effort to improve Internet connectivity. We've created resources to help you and your community and have curated materials from other organizations to help as you seek a path to better Internet access. Please let us know if you have suggestions or additional comments by emailing us - firstname.lastname@example.org.
An increasing number of municipalities and cooperatives are investing in telecommunications infrastructure to serve public facilities, local businesses, and residences (see our map here). They're filling the gaps created by large national cable and telephone companies, which have focused their investments in primarily areas with assured returns. As a result, rural areas and urban regions with higher concentrations of low-income households don't have the Internet access they need. Often the infrastructure just isn't there; sometimes it's unaffordable.
In order to correct these errors and bring fast, affordable, reliable connectivity to all of their citizens, communities are implementing change at the local level. Each municipality, county, and region is unique, and so need to review potential policies to determine which suit their community and vision.
In the summer of 2019, Next Century Cities (NCC) released the Becoming Broadband Ready Toolkit, the most comprehensive resources we've seen to help local communities. This comprehensive resource covers considerations from early in the process to determining success throughout implementation. In addition to offering guidance with examples from across the country, the toolkit offers links to other resources, such as model ordinances, reports, podcasts, and organizations laser-focused on specific and relevant issues.
The toolkit organizes material into overreaching themes, such as building community support, establishing policies to encourage investment, and the pros and cons if publicly owned models, among many other considerations. Within each broad topic, however, NCC has dug deep into specifics, such as addressing simplified permitting practices, creating digital inclusion plans, and ways to work around legislative or regulatory barriers. Throughout the toolkit, NCC turned to the many members of the organization for real-world examples of workable solutions.
Download the toolkit from the NCC website here
Over the years, we've also developed resources that can help educate and spread the word about the benefits of community networks as your project moves forward. Whether your project begins at the grassroots with regular folks in the community or in City Hall, these resources are easily accessible and help explain why community networks are a potential alternative.
- Santa Monica’s City Net: An Incremental Approach to Building a Fiber Optic Network - This community used the pay-as-you-go approach over several years to provide access throughout the city.
- All Hands on Deck: Minnesota Local Government Models for Expanding Fiber Internet Access - Learn how twelve different communities - suburban, exurban, and rural – took unique approaches to improving connectivity in Minnesota. Some chose partners, some deployed on their own. We provide valuable policy suggestions based on our findings.
- Chanute's Gig: Rural Kansas Network Built Without Borrowing - This report outlines the process that the city of Chanute went through in order to build an effective fiber network. Rather than build out the network all at once, Chanute built it incrementally without issuing bonds or borrowing money.
- The Empire Lobbies Back: How National Cable and DSL Companies Banned The Competition in North Carolina - This report reviews the fight and barriers set in place in Wilson, North Carolina. After Wilson, big cable corporations such as AT&T fought hard to get barriers passed into law preventing other communities from building their own fiber networks.
- Broadband At the Speed of Light: How Three Communities Built Next-Generation Networks - This study analyzes three of the most successful locally built networks in the United States: Bristol, VA, Chattanooga, TN, and Lafayette, LA. It gives the history of each network and provides analysis on the benefits they have provided to their communities and states.
- Carolina’s Connected Community: Wilson Gives the Greenlight to Fast Internet - When the incumbents could not justify the investment, Wilson knew it needed to act to ensure economic survival. This case study shares the story of their efforts, their challenges, and their ultimate success.
- The Art of the Possible: An Overview of Public Broadband Options - This paper explores a variety of approaches, assessing different business models and the benefits/risks of each. The report was created by the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation along with CTC Technology and Energy.
- The Empire Lobbies Back: How National Cable and DSL Companies Banned the Competition in North Carolina - North Carolina is one of 19 states that have barriers in place restricting municipal network initiatives. This cast study dissects how the cable and DSL lobbies took control of the telecommunications landscape in North Carolina. This is a must read for any community that needs to know the opposition they may face.
- Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: The Reality of Lafayette’s Gigabit Network - Be ready to address common misinformation claims from those opposed to local telecommunications authority. This report takes a popular article that incorporates many falsities and addresses them one by one.
- RS Fiber: Fertile Fields for New Internet Cooperative - Farmers and other rural residents in Renville and Sibley Counties in central Minnesota used the cooperative model to create a FTTH and wireless network in a region left behind by big incumbents.
- Successful Strategies for Broadband Public Private Partnerships - An increasing number of communities are exploring the possibilities of working with a private sector partner to deploy, manage, and offer Internet access. This report offers caveats, smart policies, and examples for communities considering such an approach.