Welcome to the New CommunityNets.org

Spherical 360

Fourteen years ago, the original MuniNetworks.org went live. With support from the Ford Foundation, it came into being to tell the stories of all of the communities around the country that were taking back their telecommunications future from the monopoly providers. I hoped it would be two things: a clearinghouse of news and local-government success stories, and a lasting, living archive of the movement to return the ideology of self-reliance to Internet infrastructure. At the time, there were a few dozen municipal networks operating around the country. 

Since then, we've written almost 4,000 stories, recorded more than 500 episodes of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, and released dozens of reports, case studies, and fact sheets about local governments taking action. We've produced informational shorts and documentaries, explainer videos, and more. CommunityNets.org gets visited by thousands of people every day, and records more than a quarter of a million page views each month.

To me, this is a reflection of the strong and growing movement to take back control from the cable and telephone monopolies who charge too much and invest too little in our cities, our suburbs, and our rural areas. Today, hundreds and hundreds of communities are served by publicly and locally owned and operated networks, covering millions of people. More than a third of all electric cooperatives have recognized the need for rural Internet access or responded to demands by their membership, and are adding broadband to their portfolios. Most telephone cooperatives are doing the same. In fact, the cooperative model is so successful that rural North and South Dakota - with some of the least densely populated parts of the country - are better served by fiber optic infrastructure than many major cities. Cooperatives across the Dakotas cover more ground than the entirety of AT&T's fiber service today.

We launch this new site and begin the new year full of hope. We want to thank long-time readers and new arrivals alike, as we start a new phase of life. As you might have noticed, our new home is cleaner and more modern looking. We've got a new URL - while municipal networks remain a central focus, today we also track electric and telephone cooperatives, Tribes, those networks built and owned by other levels of local government, and nonprofits.

Above all else, the animating spirit and goals of the work I began almost fifteen years ago remains the same. CommunityNets.org exists to document efforts by and defend the rights of Americans to break free from the chains of monopoly providers. Here you'll find the stories of communities that have made a collective commitment to fast, affordable, universal Internet service for every single resident. From the Public Utility Districts in Washington state to downtown Baltimore, and the farms of North Dakota to small communities in the Deep South, local elected officials and their constituents have built a national movement. 

Like its predecessor, the new CommunityNets.org will continue to be a clearinghouse for news and research, as well as an archive. A new and updated Community Networks Map is on the way, so stay tuned. With the help of a wonderful team, we're building a brand new database to track networks from birth to maturity, with a plan to open it up to advocates, organizers, and researchers alike. 

With the help of talented and dedicated people, we plan to keep going.

How to Use This Site

If all you're interested in are stories of locally owned and operated networks, continue to visit the home page or www.communitynets.org/news to see new stories every day. Use the navigation headers to find reports, the podcast or Connect This! Show, trackers and dashboards, and more. We've added a brand new Press Center for new and veteran journalists writing about community networks. 

Tags continue to be the best way to find stories on a particular topic (e.g. financing or mapping) or for a particular geography (e.g. Maine). Stay tuned for a new and dedicated Topics page in the near future, which will make navigating these tags much easier.

Thank you for making this site, and by extension the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a part of the movement. We have been and remain in your debt, and here to support you. As always, we and welcome your questions, feedback, and suggestions at broadband@muninetworks.org.

-Christopher Mitchell

Director, Community Broadband Networks

February 2023