It is duplicitous to suggest that the incumbents represent the “free market” against “government-subsidized” municipal networks. Incumbents are incumbents precisely because they have had the weight and resources of government to back them up for years. Furthermore, they have had backing from those levels of government - the federal and state - which are least pervious to direct participation by local residents. Municipal networks, funded by the public and accountable to the public, represent a balance to the domination of telecommunications infrastructure by huge corporations which have long enjoyed substantial government subsidy. Banning or restricting municipal networks will end this effort to create a level playing field.
Ford Foundation Annual Report Promotes Publicly Owned Networks
The Ford Foundation has recognized the important contribution of publicly owned broadband networks to improving affordable, reliable, and fast access to the Internet in communities throughout the US. Using data that we helped to gather, they have launched a single map identifying publicly owned networks around the country and showing states with barriers to such networks.
Ford Foundation explores the context around the map here:
The stakes on this issue are high, and the questions are complex—making the involvement of philanthropy especially important. Questions are emerging, for example, about the lack of market competition, and what appears to be the resulting failure to provide good service to rural and working communities. Some localities are responding by establishing municipal broadband networks that meet the infrastructure needs of their citizens and ensure that local businesses and families are not left behind. Our grantee partners are informing debates on issues like these, where the real future of Internet rights is being determined—and where the public interest can easily get lost.
We look forward to seeing this map add more communities as they take responsibility for their digital future.