Community Broadband Kicks Comcast to the Curb

True or false: The fastest broadband connections in the country come from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other big telecom companies.

The answer: A big, fat FALSE. A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) shows that local governments build the fastest, most innovative broadband networks in the country.

“Broadband at the Speed of Light” is an in-depth case study of how three communities — Bristol, Va., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Lafayette, La.— built next-generation broadband networks that deliver a faster, more affordable Internet than their corporate competitors. These networks work better because they’re owned and run by the communities they serve — not by faceless companies headquartered hundreds of miles away that have little incentive to ensure everyone has decent broadband service.

Not only do these municipal networks connect more people to the Internet, but they also give back to local economies — they employ local residents and subscription fees go straight to a locally owned business.

"It may surprise people that these cities in Virginia, Tennessee and Louisiana have faster and lower-cost access to the Internet than anyone in San Francisco, Seattle or any other major city,” writes report author Christopher Mitchell, director of ILSR’s Telecommunications as Commons Initiative. “These publicly owned networks have each created hundreds of jobs and saved millions of dollars.”

ILSR runs the Community Broadband Networks site, a treasure trove of updates and resources about the state of community broadband. The organization has also produced a video that takes less than two minutes to convey why community broadband initiatives are key to how we get online in the 21st century:

Meanwhile, the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) continues to shop around model legislation that would ban municipal broadband networks. Unfortunately, some state legislatures — influenced by corporate cash from big cable — have taken the bait. The anti-municipal broadband bill that passed in North Carolina last year makes it impossible for local governments to build fast and affordable alternatives to Time Warner Cable and the rest. We have ALEC to thank for that.

There’s a movement afoot to stop bad bills like this before they even hit the floor, and to protect communities’ right to decide whether to create their own broadband networks. Watch the video, read the report and go here to learn more.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good