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PNS Daily Newscast - November 16, 2018 


Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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High-Speed Broadband: The Public-Private Debate

GRAPHIC: A map showing the variety of ways and locations local governments have invested in wired telecommunications networks. Advocates say communities and nonprofits offer competition to private-sector cable and fiber-optic companies, but Pennsylvania still doesn't allow them. Photo credit: Community Broadband Networks.
GRAPHIC: A map showing the variety of ways and locations local governments have invested in wired telecommunications networks. Advocates say communities and nonprofits offer competition to private-sector cable and fiber-optic companies, but Pennsylvania still doesn't allow them. Photo credit: Community Broadband Networks.
June 30, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. - In the shadow of high-speed Internet provider giants such as Verizon and Comcast, a growing number of city-run and nonprofit broadband networks are emerging - although the idea faces big hurdles in Pennsylvania.

Nearly 400 communities nationwide now have some form of publicly owned Internet service. Christopher Mitchell, director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said choice is at the heart of this alternative - or more accurately, the lack thereof.

"Fundamentally, there's a lack of competition," he said, "and the reason that cities step in in this space often is because we don't believe the private sector is capable of resolving that lack of competition on its own."

Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based limited-government advocate, cited Pew Research statistics to claim that one in four Americans doesn't have broadband at home because he or she doesn't want it.

"A non-trivial portion of Americans, especially in some of the cities where we see these networks, don't value broadband," he said, "and I am troubled by the idea of the government providing it."

In Pennsylvania, communities are not allowed to provide broadband services unless the local phone company has refused to provide the requested speed - regardless of the prices charged. It's a policy critics say amounts to a de facto ban on community broadband networks and leaves some areas at the mercy of providers with little incentive to make prices affordable.

An interactive map of community broadband networks is online at muninetworks.org/communitymap.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA