Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America
The FCC collects data from Internet Service Providers that reflects census blocks where they offer service to at least one premise. Currently, the Commission does not collect information about rates subscribers pay. A new report from the Berkman Klein Center dives into prices subscribers pay and also looks at trends from national companies as well as local publicly owned networks. The report, Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America, supports what we’ve always found — that publicly owned networks offer the best all around value for the communities that make the investment. Download the report.
Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era
Rural communities across the United States are already building the Internet infrastructure of the future. Using a 20th century model, rural America is finding a way to tap into high-speed Internet service: electric and telephone cooperatives are bringing next-generation, Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks to their service territories. This policy brief provides an overview of the work that cooperatives have already done, including a map of the cooperatives' fiber service territories. We also offer recommendations on ways to help cooperatives continue their important strides.
Download the policy brief, Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era here.
Comcast Spends Big on Local Elections: Would Lose Millions in Revenue from Real Broadband Competition
As the company with one of the largest ISPs in the nation, Comcast Corporation makes daily investment decisions. They choose to put company funds into a variety of ventures, from theme parks to hair color; all that matters is that the investment pays off. During the 2017 election season, Comcast once again devoted funds to an investment it considered necessary - influencing elections in Seattle and Fort Collins, Colorado. We prepared a policy brief to look deeper into Comcast's investment into the elections.
Download the brief here: Comcast Spends Big on Local Elections: Would Lose Millions in Revenue from Real Broadband Competition.
Ammon Report: "Enabling Competition and Innovation on a City Fiber Network"
As Ammon, Idaho, celebrated the official launch of its publicly owned open access network on October 5th, 2017, the folks from Harvard University’s Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH), shared Ammon’s story in their new report. Enabling Competition and Innovation on a City Fiber Network, by Paddy Leerssen and David Talbot provides the details of the community’s pioneering network that uses technology to increase competition for the benefit of citizens.
Emerging Issues in Expanding Next-Generation Internet Access: 2017 Policy Agenda
Next Century Cities’ “Emerging Issues in Expanding Next-Generation Internet Access: 2017 Policy Agenda” offers recommendations to local communities that want to improve and expand local connectivity. This policy agenda looks at some of the most recent issues facing cities and examines ways they’ve faced the challenges. Many of the examples in the policy agenda come from communities that are members of Next Century Cities.
Citizens Take Charge: Concord, Massachusetts, Builds a Fiber Network
A new case study recently released by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University describes how the community of Concord, Massachusetts deployed its extensive municipal fiber-optic network and smart grid. In Citizens Take Charge: Concord, Massachusetts, Builds a Fiber Network, the authors offer history, and describe the benefits to the community from better connectivity and enhanced electric efficiencies.
Crossed Lines: Why the AT&T-Time Warner Merger Demands a New Approach to Antitrust
As federal agencies examine the AT&T - Time Warner merger, how we analyze antitrust also needs to be reevaluated - especially in the telecommunications industry. A new report from the Roosevelt Institute takes a closer look at how antitrust enforcement philosophy has changed and how that change has enabled the current state of telecommunications in which a few large anticompetitive players control the market. The authors offer recommendations and cautionary predictions that may arise if we continue without reassessing how we scrutinize these large scale mergers.
The report notes how scrutiny of mergers has come to depend on the perceived harm the results will have on consumers, but such a narrow focus results in harming competition.
Instead, regulators should adopt a more holistic view of market power, specifically incorporating analysis of upstream impact of anticompetitive behaviors, especially those enabled by mergers. This would entail closer scrutiny of vertical mergers, positive price discrimination, and non-price-based schemes to profit excessively by withholding access to consumers.
Smart Grid Paybacks: The Chattanooga Example
A new article from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society takes a look at the pay in and pay off from Chattanooga’s investment into its fiber-optic network. The article, Smart Grid Paybacks: The Chattanooga Example, was written by Davd A. Talbot and Maria Paz-Canales.
North Carolina Connectivity: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
North Carolina's digital divide between urban and rural communities is increasing dangerously in a time when high quality Internet access is more important than ever. Rural and urban areas of North Carolina are essentially living in different realities, based on the tides of private network investment where rural communities are severely disadvantaged. The state has relied too much on the telecom giants like AT&T and CenturyLink that have little interest in rural regions.
Download the Report
The state perversely discourages investment from local governments and cooperatives. For instance, electric co-ops face barriers in seeking federal financing for fiber optic projects. State law is literally requiring the city of Wilson to disconnect its customers in the town of Pinetops, leaving them without basic broadband access. This decision in particular literally took the high-speed, affordable Internet access out of the hands of North Carolina's rural citizens.
The lengths to which North Carolina has gone to limit Internet access to their citizens is truly staggering. Both a 1999 law limiting electric cooperatives' access to capital for telecommunications and a 2011 law limiting local governments' ability to build Internet networks greatly undermine the ability of North Carolinians to increase competition to the powerful cable and DSL incumbent providers.
In the face of this reality, the Governor McCrory's Broadband Infrastructure Office recommended a "solution" that boils down to relying on cable and telephone monopolies' benevolence. What this entire situation comes down to is a fundamental disadvantage for North Carolina's rural residents because their state will not allow them to solve their own problems locally even when the private sector abandons them.
"It's not as if these communities have a choice as to what they're able to do to improve their Internet service," says report co-author Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "There's a demonstrated need for high-quality Internet service in rural North Carolina, but the state literally refuses to let people help themselves."
Read ongoing stories about these networks at ILSR’s site devoted to Community Broadband Networks. You can also subscribe to a once-per-week email with stories about community broadband networks.
From The Report:
- Despite significant tax subsidies from the state and federal government, North Carolina's private providers are building their fiber-optic networks only in certain metro areas and none in rural regions.
- Only 12 percent of North Carolina's rural population has a choice for their broadband access, the rest are stuck with only one option and no control over their Internet prospects.
- All of North Carolina's telephone cooperatives are investing in fiber for members in their service territory, some have entirely replaced their copper lines with fiber-optic.
- While North Carolina has 26 electric cooperatives capable of bringing fiber-to-the-home to rural residents, a 1999 state law (N.C. Gen. Stat § 117-18.1) limits the co-ops' access to capital for telecommunications projects.
Download the Report
The Secrets Behind Partnerships to Improve Internet Access
A growing number of U.S. cities have broken up monopoly control of the Internet marketplace locally. They're promoting entrepreneurship while giving residents and businesses real choice in how they connect and reach new audiences. They've put a new wrinkle in 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.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Westminster & Ting: The How and the Why
Minnesota's Broadband Grant Program: Getting the Rules Right
In its first two years of implementation, the Minnesota Border-to-Border program distributed $30 million to 31 rural Minnesota communities. But the state has not put enough money into the program and needs to put more focus on getting investment in Greater Minnesota cities to spur economic development.
“This funding is essential to greater Minnesota communities that are being left behind,” says Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “The current disbursement is only meeting a fraction of the state’s high-speed Internet needs as it is. The program’s rules must be reconsidered to meet economic development goals for the state.”
"Getting the Rules Right" is a policy brief on the Border-to-Border Broadband program. It covers what the program is, how it works, and why funding must be expanded in order to serve more greater Minnesota communities.
WiredWest: a Cooperative of Municipalities Forms to Build a Fiber Optic Network
In 2010, communities in rural western Massachusetts began a group that would evolve into the WiredWest Cooperative. Over the past six years, the group, formed to bring better last-mile connectivity to the unserved and underserved areas of the state, has faced a number of challenges. Most recently, disagreements with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), the state agency tasked with distributing funds for last-mile connectivity, have threatened WiredWest's regional cooperative model.
In a new report released by the Berkman Center, authors David Talbot, Waide Warner, and Susan Crawford share the story of these communities' attempt to band together to establish a fiber-optic network.
In WiredWest: a Cooperative of Municipalities Forms to Build A Fiber Optic Network, we learn not only how this region came together, but how they developed their business plan and procured funding, how they anticipate the network to affect affordability, and the ways they have adjusted the plan as circumstances required. The authors also take the time to share some history of cooperatives, and address how the cooperative model - used in the past for electricity and telephone - can benefit the communities in rural western Massachusetts.