If you believe that publicly owned Internet networks are one of the tools that can help in efforts to expand fast, affordable, reliable connectivity to people in your state, and you want to share your thoughts with elected officials, use this language to get started. There may not be a project being developed in your area or a specific bill that you support, but you know that you want decision makers to vote favorably on measures that advance policies and financially support local authority and communities’ efforts to improve local connectivity through publicly owned broadband infrastructure. We’ve created a brief constituent letter/email that you can use to get started in drafting correspondence to state and federal lawmakers that convey your support for publicly owned Internet networks and local authority.
Keep It Simple, Keep It Effective
State and federal legislators typically serve on multiple committees and, as a result, their time spent on each issue is often limited. In order to encourage them to digest your full letter, stating your thoughts in a brief letter or email is often the most effective. Being direct, polite, and supportive goes along way with Representatives, Senators, and their staff.
You can include examples from your own state or from other places to help politicians and their staff learn more about the advantages of community broadband networks. Large national Internet access companies spend millions each year to employ lobbyists who spread negative misinformation about publicly owned broadband networks. You can help balance those efforts by sharing some of the positive results. Use our Municipal FTTH Networks page, the Economic Development page, search a specific state on MuniNetworks.org, or click on one of the pins on the Community Network Map to find a sample network.
If you live in one of the 20 states where restrictions are in place that legally discourage or prevent communities from investing in publicly owned infrastructure, you can mention your state’s restriction in your letter and encourage your elected officials to work toward removing it. You can check out our Community Network Map and select the “States with Barriers” tool. Click anywhere within the red on the state and a box will pop-up with a short explanation that describes the limitation and a citation to the specific law. Insert the information with the letter.
We also encourage you to use your own experiences to personalize your letter. If you live in a place where you already have access to the Internet via a community network, you can share the benefits. If you wish you had better connectivity, explain why.
Improving access to broadband, especially in rural areas, is quickly becoming an issue that elected officials are moving front and center as they reach out to voters. This letter is crafted to state elected officials, but the language can also be worked for contact with your representatives at other levels of government. We encourage you to make changes that reflect your own style and to share it will other people who also want to express their support for community broadband.
You can find information on your elected officials with this look-up tool from Common Cause.
Dear [REP/SEN NAME],
As your constituent, I am writing to ask you to support community broadband networks, including municipal networks and other publicly owned networks, as a solution to inadequate Internet access in our state.
Community broadband networks, such as [EXAMPLE(S) FROM STATE], bring affordable, high-quality Internet access to residents, encourage market competition, and enable local economic development. Publicly owned broadband networks can also reduce costs for local government buildings, schools, and libraries. Also, because they are run locally, not by a company headquartered in a different state, subscribers can hold community owned networks accountable.
Unfortunately, [STATE RESTRICTION — e.g., “Tennessee state law prevents municipal networks from extending beyond their electric service territory”]. This restriction keeps affordable, reliable, and fast broadband out of reach for far too many of our state’s citizens [OR “Tennesseans,” “Idahoan,” etc.] We should be able to make these decisions locally.
I ask you to remember the many benefits of publicly owned broadband networks when developing new legislation and that you vote to support local communities’ ability to solve their own connectivity needs. In addition to removing state laws that discourage community networks, it’s important that you support proposals to help local governments fund planning and deployment of broadband networks.
As your constituent and a voter, I consider this issue a priority.
Thank you for your time and your service.