Municipal Networks

Dynamic Competition in Broadband Markets: A 2024 Update

In mid-2021, the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) published a white paper on the state of broadband competition in the United States, which concluded that:

Neighbors Providing Service to Neighbors: Vermont’s Approach to Community Broadband

In 2019, the Vermont Department of Public Service found that nearly a quarter of Vermont addresses lacked service that met the then federal benchmarks for broadband speeds (25/3 megabits per second, or Mbps). The COVID-19 pandemic only underscored the urgent need in a state that has consistently ranked near the bottom of connectivity comparisons over the past decade. Vermonters saw a lack of interest from private providers to invest in the sparsely populated rural state and recognized that communities needed to address the problem themselves.

Community-based Broadband Providers Propose Merger to Expand Access to High-speed Internet

NEK Broadband and CVFiber announce a preliminary plan to join the two Communications Union Districts (CUDs). The proposed merger would unite resources, experience, expertise, and a shared commitment to deliver exceptional high-speed internet services to their collective 71 communities. Working together, they will be better able to support digital equity, economic growth, and community development across the Northeast Kingdom and Central Vermont.

Expand affordable municipal broadband in Upstate New York

Access to affordable, reliable broadband may have once been viewed as a luxury, but there is no question that it has now become an integral part of our daily lives. Similar to how we view electricity and other utilities, internet access is essential in the 21st-century—critical for everything from remote work and job searching, to education and socializing.

New Jersey town plans municipal broadband network

The mayor of the city of Vineland (NJ) says residents of his city are underserved by currently available broadband services. And he’s moving forward with a plan to create a municipal broadband network. This has already sparked lobbying against the prospect by a dark money group called the Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation. According to the city’s initial proposal, Vineland suffers from high economic distress with some areas having unemployment rates as high as 9% and poverty rates as high as 19.2%.

Getting Aggressive with Broadband Regulation

The Federal Communications Commission recently voted to subject the Internet, once again, to legacy public utility telecommunications regulation originally designed for the old Ma Bell monopoly. While the FCC’s new rules do not push so far as to regulate retail rates (though they do regulate wholesale termination rates), the FCC’s rules open the door to potential retail rate regulation of broadband services by the states.

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a vital Band-Aid, not a cure

Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) broadband benefits are set to halt at the end of May, leaving millions of families with a difficult choice to make. For the sake of 60 million Americans who depend on ACP, the program must be renewed.

Another US state repeals law that protected ISPs from municipal competition

Minnesota eliminated two laws that made it harder for cities and towns to build their own broadband networks. The state-imposed restrictions were repealed in an omnibus commerce policy bill signed on May 21 by Gov Tim Walz (D-MN). Minnesota was previously one of about 20 states that imposed significant restrictions on municipal broadband.

Communication union districts continue broadband rollout

Town by town, Vermont is getting connected thanks to communication union districts (CUDs) rolling out fiber cable. The Vermont Community Broadband Board says the work of the CUDs is moving the needle, with the vast majority of Vermonters getting access to fiber connection, something they say is a change from a year-and-a-half ago. Davis Brakeley calls his experience of trying to surf the web just over a year ago “the dark ages.” Brakeley is on the board of trustees of the Shard Villa Residential Care Home in Salisbury.

Municipal broadband advocates fight off attacks from “dark money” groups

Cities and towns that build their own broadband networks often say they only considered the do-it-yourself option because private Internet service providers didn't meet their communities' needs.  Hundreds of municipal broadband networks have been built around the US as a result, including dozens that have started operating since 2021. The rise of public broadband hasn't happened without a fight, though.