Thursday, August 5, 2021

Play

Another state is gearing up to map out new congressional districts, and Nevada and California cope with massive wildfires.

Play

Capitol police officers who defended Congress on January 6 will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the Senate examines the threat of domestic terrorism, and a champion of worker's rights passes away.

High-Speed Broadband: The Public-Private Debate

Play

Tuesday, June 24, 2014   

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - High-speed Internet networks operated by municipalities and nonprofits are fighting a pitched battle against the Comcasts and Verizons of the world, and the political and financial hurdles which small-scale Internet providers face are significant.

Nearly 400 communities nationwide have some form of publicly-owned Internet service. In New York, residents of Ontario County in the Finger Lakes region benefit from local high-speed Internet. Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, says choice is at the heart of this Internet alternative - or more accurately, the lack of choice.

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

Some cities and local governments have had difficulty keeping the community Internet provider model afloat. Libertarians and conservatives tend to oppose it as something government shouldn't be involved in, but there are success stories like Chattanooga, Tennessee, where citizens access a city-owned fiber optic network for less than $70 a month.

Ryan Radia, associate director of technology studies with the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., cites Pew Research statistics which claim one in four Americans don't have broadband at home - because they don't want it.

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

Mitchell, on the other hand, says community broadband networks are important because they go up against a handful of companies with a stranglehold on the business. He says in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, he - or anyone else - would have a difficult time competing with Comcast to provide Internet access.

"I'd probably need to raise about $200 million to build a network that would compete with them," says Mitchell. "But as soon as I did that, Comcast would cut its rates significantly, and people - being very price-sensitive - would decide not to go with my new, faster, better service."

Mitchell says community networks are often demonized by big cable and telephone companies for "failing" when they don't create profits in the first three years - a nearly impossible standard. But he notes the point of community-based Internet is to provide a service first, not make a profit. Mitchell adds few would demand local governments turn a "profit" on roads they manage within three years of building them.


get more stories like this via email

In the United States, home-care workers, mostly women and people of color, earn on average only $12 an hour. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for people with disabilities in New York are pushing for the federal budget resolution to include $400 billion in Medicaid …


Environment

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Freshwater mussels are key to keeping the Chesapeake Bay watershed clean, and with more than half of all species now facing …

Social Issues

BUFFALO, Wyo. -- The doors of five historic community halls across Johnson and Sheridan counties were opened this past weekend for 15 people curious …


Over the past six decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of fires in the western United States, according to NASA. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Massive wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada have triggered poor air quality in North Carolina over the past few weeks, and …

Environment

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Farmworkers are in Olympia today, calling for stronger protections from extreme heat. The farmworkers union Familias Unidas por la …

A video from July shows sockeye salmon with red lesions and fungus because of the Columbia River's hot water. (Conrad Gowell/Columbia Riverkeeper)

Environment

BOISE, Idaho -- Rallies are taking place across the Northwest to support salmon, which face dire conditions in the Columbia River Basin. Saturday…

Environment

IXONIA, Wis. -- The public comment period has ended, but opponents of proposed natural gas storage facilities in southeastern Wisconsin still hope to …

Environment

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvanians are growing worried about the environmental consequences of natural-gas drilling in the state, according to a new …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021