Municipal Broadband

12 July 2019
12 Jul 2019
2 min read

Wired internet in America is not good. Run by terrible monopolistic companies, it is a service no one likes dealing with, that is being left behind by the rest of the world.

Roughly 75% of the country can only get internet from Comcast or TWC. Comcast has the distinct privilege of being ranked one of the worst customer service companies in America (Ranked #1 from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index). These companies can get away with this behavior because there often isn’t another place to turn.

There are two ways to fix this problem. The first is Local Loop Unbundling. Local Loop Unbundling is the regulatory process which allows multiple telecom companies to use connections from the telephone exchange to the customer’s house. Having a new company spend large amounts of money to dig up roads to install cables is wasteful; we can increase competition by letting other companies have access to these cables. This competition, in turn, would lead to better customer service and lower prices.

The other way is to build municipal broadband. Municipal broadband is government-sponsored competition for the internet, which should be applauded. Forcing these monopolies to compete has led to great success in states like Colorado and Florida. There, counties that were fed up with either not receiving access or those that were tired of Comcast’s terrible prices decided to form their own broadband company.

Although this seems like a no-brainer, it’s getting more and more difficult to pass such legislation. Currently, 26 states have laws on the books that provide hurdles or outright ban such networks. Broadband companies spent $92 million in 2018 to help pass these laws.

This is a travesty. Counties should be able to help their citizens bridge the digital divide, and these laws are leaving citizens in the dust.

In the 21st century, broadband access isn’t merely a nice to have; it’s now a fundamental human right. Those citizens without broadband access are getting left behind - it’s our job to make sure they have affordable WiFi.

Want to know more?

I spend a ton of time thinking on how to work smarter, not harder. If you'd like to be the first to know what I'm thinking about, sign up to the list below.

Process and the Art of Handoff

Living in a Brain Hub