press release

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Press Release: ILSR's Rural Cooperative Map resource now available

Date: November 28th, 2017

New Map Shows Stunning Fiber Internet Access from Rural Cooperatives

ILSR researchers chart how cooperatives connect rural America while big telephone companies abandon them

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- Despite dismal rural connectivity in general, a small number of rural towns and farming communities have better Internet access than is available in most metro regions. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has mapped the fiber-optic footprint and gigabit connectivity of all cooperatives in rural America in a new policy brief.

The rural cooperative fiber map is attached below. Many will be surprised at the remarkable footprint of residential fiber-optic access across wide swaths of rural America. ILSR’s experts are available to discuss the implications of cooperatives on rural broadband Internet expansion.

“Once again, rural cooperatives have built essential infrastructure in regions otherwise abandoned by the biggest telephone companies,” says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Despite the biggest federal subsidies going to the biggest companies, the local cooperatives have built far better networks.”

Here are some helpful bullets about the policy brief:

  • Most of the 260 telephone cooperatives and at least 60 electric cooperatives have built out  fiber infrastructure to serve businesses and/or residents

  • Some of these cooperatives have 80 years of experience rolling out rural infrastructure and ensuring it remains viable and affordable.

  • The majority of North Dakota already has Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) and the poorest county in the country (Jackson County, Kentucky) has FTTH. We can do this anywhere.

Solving rural Internet access is not only achievable and affordable, we are far closer to doing it than most people realize.

Press Release: Colorado communities overwhelming reclaim local authority, reject telecom monopolies via ballot initiatives

Date: November 8, 2017

Colorado Voters Once Again Reject Monopolies in Internet Service at the Ballot Box

All 18 voting communities opt out of restrictive state law, Fort Collins ensures municipal utility can provide broadband service


​Christopher Mitchell


MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. -- Voters across the state of Colorado have, once again, rejected big telecom by opting out of a restrictive state law. SB 152, which limits the ability of Coloradoans to explore high-speed municipal broadband has been in place since 2005, thanks to big telecom’s political heft.

As of Wednesday morning, we are prepared to announce that all 18 communities, plus Fort Collins have passed their measures by an average margin of 82.72%, and we are confirming and monitoring these results.

“We have seen overwhelming support for local Internet choice in Colorado” says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “These cities and counties recognize that they cannot count on Comcast and CenturyLink alone to meet local needs, which is why you see overwhelming support even in an off-year election.”

The 18 communities who voted to opt out of SB 152 join approximately 100 other Colorado communities that have, over the past few years, asserted their own local authority over Internet service. Now these communities have the option to improve their Internet service, allowing for a crucial economic development activity. (See our detailed map below, available for republication with attribution - just email

Press Release: Colorado Communities Set to Reclaim Local Authority via Broadband Ballot Referenda, Rebuff Internet Access Monopolies

Date: November 6th, 2017

Colorado Communities Set to Reclaim Local Authority, Rebuff Internet Access Monopolies

18 communities across the state will vote to join nearly 100 of their fellows in investigating Internet infrastructure investments


​Christopher Mitchell,


MINNEAPOLIS, MINN -- Tomorrow, 18 communities across Colorado will be voting to reclaim their local authority to end broadband monopolies. Since 2008, nearly 100 communities across Colorado have opted out of a restrictive state law (SB 152) which limits the ability of Coloradans to explore high-speed municipal broadband. This year is no different.

We at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance have a full list of those voting on the opt out measures. Additionally Fort Collins, who opted out of SB 152 in the fall of 2015, has a ballot referendum to establish a municipal utility that offers high-speed Internet service. We’ll be following that closely as well.

“These ballot initiatives are a crucial step toward better Internet access throughout Colorado,” says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Local governments are smart to reclaim the authority they need to ensure local businesses and residents aren’t stuck with cable monopolies.”

Press Release: Tennessee Sends Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017 to Gov. Haslam's Desk

Tennessee Legislature Passes Broadband Accessibility Act, Delivers Hollow "Victory"

While Governor Haslam's Signature Legislation Sounds Great, AT&T Will Be Laughing all the Way to the Bank



Christopher Mitchell

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Late yesterday, the Tennessee Legislature officially sent Governor Bill Haslam's signature legislation, the Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017, to his desk. Unfortunately, this bill is more about making taxpayer dollars accessible to AT&T than ensuring rural regions get modern Internet access.

"What we have on one side is a taxpayer-funded subsidy program, and on the other we have a subscriber-based model," says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "The tragic thing is, AT&T is a taxpayer subsidized monopoly in rural Tennessee that only has to provide a service far slower than the definition of broadband. Locally-rooted networks like Chattanooga's EPB not only offer nation-leading services but have tremendous community support."

With this bill's passage, the Tennessee General Assembly will likely not pass any other broadband legislation during this session. The Broadband Accessibility Act won't improve Tennessee's rating as 29th in Internet connectivity, but it will do a great job of lining AT&T's pockets. As we've tracked throughout the session, there are a number of bills worth supporting that would actually increase connectivity and allow municipalities to take part in their own broadband future.