Internet access is fast becoming a basic public necessity — just like water, gas or electricity. But far too many Americans, especially in rural and poorer urban areas, are finding themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, priced out by high monthly fees or stranded by corporate redlining that has deemed their towns and neighborhoods to be unprofitable.
Community Internet could provide citizens everywhere with affordable, universal access to high-speed broadband services. New wireless and wired technologies allow local governments, schools, public-private partnerships, non-profits and community organizations to offer faster, cheaper and more reliable service than ever before. But the biggest telecom and cable companies are fighting these alternatives every step of the way.
Three new reports make a definitive case for municipal broadband and counter the misinformation campaigns launched by the telecom and cable companies.
Corporate or Local Control?
In the past few years, municipal broadband has been shooting up across the country. (See the interactive map prepared by CNET to locate the many projects.) As hundreds of municipal governments explore how to directly provide high-speed broadband through local networks, major telecom firms respond with aggressive lobbying against the municipal options.
They have pushed legislation in more than a dozen states that prohibits public entities from entering into the broadband market. A number of additional state legislatures — with more expected soon — are considering similar anti-municipal broadband bills or measures to strengthen existing restrictions.
Learn more about pending legislation in the states and the battle over municipal broadband at the national level.
Community Wireless, Universal Access
New community wireless networks crop up across the country every day. Clouds of wireless connectivity now cover the business districts in our urban areas. They blanket entire towns and cities in rural America and serve as mobile communications systems for public safety officials in communities nationwide.
Community wireless networks offer wireless Internet access at a fraction of the cost charged by the telephone and cable companies. At present, there are several hundred of these groups operating nationwide using different combinations of software and hardware to provide towns, neighborhoods and campuses with high-speed, low-cost broadband. Taken together, these wireless networks offer the potential to revolutionize Internet access in America.