Does municipal broadband stimulate broadband adoption or employment growth? I conduct an empirical study of American towns that have built municipal networks to answer this question. Using data from the FCC’s Form 477 and the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, I track broadband deployment, adoption, and employment statistics for these towns from 2013 to 2017. A town’s decision to install a municipal network in the first place is not random, however.
Some of the biggest names in technology and communication came to the University of Mississippi to discuss hot topics in the industry and its future. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) was the guest of honor and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was the guest government speaker. David Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer of Comcast, was the keynote speaker. Cohen said the future of the US depends on the nation creating bipartisan partnerships to encourage a bigger focus on STEM and keeping a free and open internet.
Internet service providers (ISPs) have been able to get away with fostering pseudo-monopolies because they spend a lot of money to keep the regulatory environment and the conversation surrounding it murky. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, has been an effective agent for ISPs. He led the charge to dismantle net neutrality in 2018, and he has done everything in his power to stop municipalities from building their own broadband infrastructure.
In his bid to be the Democratic nominee for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) proposed the Green New Deal. Broadband-related provisions of the proposal include:
Every facet of society depends on broadband connectivity. 2020 presidential candidate Gov Jay Inslee’s (D-WA) is committed to confronting the rural broadband challenge, by:
Hillsboro’s (OR) publicly supported internet project aims to undercut its rivals on pricing and substantially outpace them in speed. The city council has set pricing for its forthcoming service, called HiLight, offering superfast gigabit service for $55 a month. That’s about half what Comcast charges for the same speeds. Hillsboro says it will offer speeds up to 4 gigabits for $300 a month, the same price as Comcast’s 2 gig plan. The first homes will be online early in 2020, according to the city, about a year behind the initial schedule.
Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) will join the increasing number of electric cooperatives that provide broadband access. CAEC plans to construct the network, named CAEC Access, with a phased approach. Phase 1 will connect the co-op’s 24 electrical substations and six main offices with a 365-mile fiber ring.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg's policies to uplift rural America includes an ambitious and holistic Internet for All initiative to ensure all communities have affordable access to this necessary technology to create businesses, access health care, and expand opportunities for students to learn and thrive.
Nineteen states have established legal barriers or even outright bans on publicly owned networks, according to well-respected communications law firm Baller Stokes & Lide. These state laws, often enacted at the behest of large telecom monopolies, slow the development of community owned connectivity in various ways. Many news outlets have erroneously reported that 26 states now preempt municipal broadband networks, based off unintentionally misleading research from BroadbandNow.
Two 2020 presidential candidates released plans for investing in rural America this week. And broadband plays a key role in both. Senator Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) plan to invest in rural America includes a "public option for broadband" and a proposal to create an Office of Broadband Access that will manage an $85 billion federal grant program to expand broadband access across the country. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) plan includes having the White House be a funding partner for communites and a call for a $60 billion investment to connect all Americans.