Rural Georgians struggling who for years have struggled to gain internet access could see new sympathy from internet users in Georgia towns and suburbs. Critical to supplying that service are the state's 42 Electric Membership Cooperatives (EMCs), which provide electricity to well over two thirds of Georgia's real estate. But state lawmakers so far are showing little interest in asking Georgia taxpayers to help their rural neighbors with the price of internet.
The spread of the novel coronavirus has proven conclusively that the internet should be a public utility. It’s a basic necessity in the 21st century, like running water, gas, and electricity. Perhaps after the pandemic panic gives way to a new state of normalcy, the people will demand inexpensive and reliable high-quality broadband, and maybe private internet service providers will have to sing a different tune. They already recognize that access is essential, based on their response to the coronavirus quarantines.
A Q&A with Chris Mitchell, director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Broadband Networks Initiative.
Over the long term, we are better off with as much experimentation and as many leaders as possible, not only to spur the kinds of innovations that will protect us from the virus (vaccines, treatments, cheaper and better medical equipment) but also to guide our transition to a very different world. All of this innovation will require universal access to fast, affordable broadband. Our government has an obligation to provide public education; it must now provide the broadband to make that education possible.
In 1999, Yakutat (AK) became home to one of Alaska’s first surf shops. Now, two decades later, the coastal community of 600 people is looking at another first for the community — high-speed Internet access. Cordova Telecom Cooperative (CTC) will be expanding its broadband network to Yakutat from the co-op’s headquarters 220 miles away in Cordova (AK). Already, CTC offers wireline and mobile connectivity in and around Cordova.
As state lawmakers debate in committee rooms and Capitol chambers around the country, various broadband and Internet network infrastructure bills are appearing on agendas. Some are good news for local communities interested in developing publicly owned networks while other preemption bills make projects more difficult to plan, fund, and execute. We've gathered together some notable bills from several states that merit watching - good, bad, and possibly both.
City leaders told residents in Spring Hill (KS) that their notoriously unreliable internet service would soon improve, igniting hope that they could effortlessly stream Netflix or pay the bills online without relying on a mobile hot spot. But recently in some quarters, hopes for fiber optic internet at every home and business have twisted into suspicions over how the city government operates.
The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), a program launched in 2008 to connect all Californians to high-speed Internet, was an early success. It helped build middle mile open access fiber to hard-to-serve communities and delivered high-speed access to areas that never had Internet. It funded fiber-to-the-home to public housing, ensuring low income users had the same high-speed access that wealthy neighborhoods had. And it was rapidly closing the digital divide that low income urban and rural Californians faced, due to years of neglect from incumbent Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Cities with their own broadband utilities and those looking to start them are hoping to disconnect Iowa statehouse proposals restricting their operation. A bill introduced in the Iowa Senate could prevent existing municipal communications utilities from offering discounted or competitive rates. It also would limit financing options for cities working to build their own fiber networks to provide internet, television and phone service to residents.
City Utilities, Springfield's (MO) city-owned electric utility, recently announced plans to expand its fiber optic network to every home in the city and lease excess fiber—on a nonexclusive basis—to the internet service provider (ISP) CenturyLink. CenturyLink, in turn, will offer high-speed fiber broadband services citywide and pay for marketing and customer service costs.