Communities invest in telecommunications networks for a variety of reasons - economic development, improving access to education and health care, price stabilization, etc. They range from massive networks offering a gig to hundreds of thousands in Tennessee to small towns connecting a few local businesses.
This map tracks a variety of ways in which local governments have invested in wired telecommunications networks as well as state laws that discourage such approaches.
Our map includes over 450 communities (updated Oct, 2015):
83 communities with a publicly owned FTTH network reaching most or all of the community.
77 communities with a publicly owned cable network reaching most or all of the community.
Over 185 communities with some publicly owned fiber service available to parts of the community.
Over 115 communities with publicly owned dark fiber available.
Over 50 communities in 19 states with a publicly owned network offering at least 1 Gigabit services.
Nineteen states have barriers in place that discourage or prevent local communities from deciding locally if such an investment is a wise decision. We strongly believe these decisions should be made locally, based on needs, capacity, and desire of the community itself.
Click on the pin of a network to learn more about it or click on a state with barriers (in red) to learn about the limitation. Below the map, you may select what types of information you want to display.
We continue to expand this map with other forms of publicly owned networks. Still to come are wireless networks, networks serving community anchor institutions, and more. Get updates by signing up for our one-email-per-week list announcing new stories and resources.
Local governments do not favor themselves on taxes or right of ways or otherwise compete unfairly with incumbent telecommunications and incumbent cable companies. To the contrary, private incumbents enjoy a wealth of state and federal subsidies, guaranteed rates of return, regulated rates for pole attachments, etc. In addition, local telephone companies enjoyed years of regulated monopoly status to build positions of dominance they continue to enjoy. To pretend that these local incumbents, with their subsidies and regulated access, need to “level the playing field” to protect a “free market” against local government systems flies in the face of reality.