Battle Creek Enquirer Interviews Christopher on Municipal Networks in Michigan

Internet service in Marshall was slow, so the city built its own fiber-optic network

The Battle Creek Enquirer interviewed Christopher Mitchell, director of ILSR's Community Broadband Initiative, as part of a story on the new municipal fiber network in Marshall, Michigan.

Here are Mitchell's contributions: 

Michigan is one of about 20 states that limits the abilities for municipalities to build their own networks, said Chris Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Mitchell, an expert on community broadband networks, runs, which provides resources to communities thinking about building their own networks.


Marshall is one of about 150 communities in the nation that offers citywide internet services, Mitchell said.

Five years ago, there were fewer than 100.

"They are very dissatisfied [by] the options from the big cable and telephone companies," Mitchell said. "In our experience, the cities will reach out to the providers and ask them to improve service. They will typically respond and say it’s adequate and doesn’t need to be improved. Those companies have a limited amount to invest, and they will invest it where they can get the most profit."


Other than Marshall, only one other municipality in Michigan offers citywide fiber and that's Sebewaing, a town of about 1,000 residents in the Thumb region, according to a national Community Network Map by the Community Broadband Networks Initiative.


"Cities are reluctant to get into this [because] they don’t want to have to engage in a marketing campaign against Comcast, AT&T or WOW!," Mitchell said. 

"As more cities like what demand there is, I think we will see more cities doing it."

Read the full story here