Some experts are arguing that digital services by their very nature represent interstate commerce and therefore are best dealt with by Congress. In order to avoid the fragmentation of state-centered markets, it is necessary to have uniform standards, not state or local statutes. Given the current composition of the US Supreme Court, a majority of justices could endorse that interpretation of the interstate commerce clause and sharply limits the ability of state and local governments to impose rules on digital services or technology innovation.
While the Federal Communications Commission reports that 90 percent of Iowans have access to advanced broadband, others, including Microsoft, argue that measurement of access is grossly overstated, as only about 30 percent of Iowans actually use broadband. While a state utilities board rules on natural gas and electricity rate increases proposed by investor-owned companies and local officials are accountable for a customer’s water and wastewater bill, Iowa broadband exists largely in the private sector.
At the beginning of 2019, our Community Broadband Networks team visited North Carolina as part of the Let’s Connect speaking tour. While preparing for the trip and after returning to Minnesota, we researched and mapped Internet access and broadband funding in the state.
Next Century Cities teamed up with the Internet Society and Neighborly to create the Becoming Broadband Ready toolkit. This comprehensive toolkit provides local leaders with a roadmap to encourage broadband investment in their community. While every community will choose to tackle connectivity a little differently – a small island community and a large urban center will likely have unique considerations and approaches – there are many common threads that run through successful broadband projects.
A few years ago, Tuttle (OK) suddenly found itself without cable or internet service after a local broadband provider went bankrupt, leaving behind unpaid bills to the power company. Like the majority of cities in the US, Tuttle residents accessed broadband through private companies rather than through a city-run system. With the town of a few thousand growing quickly and attracting professionals from nearby Oklahoma City who were used to high-speed internet, Tuttle city officials began meeting with new private telecommunications companies to fill the gap.
Decades after bringing electricity and telephone services to America’s rural households, cooperatives are tackling a new challenge: the rural digital divide. New updates to the Community Broadband Networks initiative’s report Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model for the Internet Era, originally published in 2017, illustrate the remarkable progress co-ops have made in deploying fiber optic Internet access across the country. The report features new maps showing overall growth
Even though community broadband has proven itself incredibly valuable and viable, broadband is taking a beating in some areas of the country thanks to what has become a siege against municipal broadband by the large telecommunication incumbents, including AT&T, Comcast, and others.
Clarksville (AR) began their journey toward better local connectivity like many other communities we’ve interview and written about: by first focusing on fiber as a tool to enhance electric utility efficiencies. Four years after making the choice to deploy fiber, the town has chosen to use that fiber to offer Internet access to the community. Gigabit connectivity is on the way to every premise in Clarksville. This past legislative session, restrictions in AR eased somewhat when lawmakers made changes to allow local communities to apply for federal grants.
MB Link, which has only been in business for about a year, offers 1-gigabit-per-second service to every residence in Mount Belvieu (TX). It’s run by the City of Mont Belvieu, a municipal broadband system in a state where many assume such an operation is forbidden by law. But the city’s administrators, who say they could not get existing internet providers to expand service or step up their speeds, went to court in 2017 and got a state district judge to rule that broadband internet is a utility on a par with electricity and water service.
After visiting with 5,600 residents, and making 277,000 connections, one message stands out: Loveland (CO) wants broadband internet, and they wanted it yesterday, Councilor John Fogle said.