Next Century Cities (NCC) helps communities across the U.S. connect to each other, find resources, and discover ways to improve local Internet access options. The organization has released valuable tools and resources to that aim, including their most recent fact sheet, The Opportunity of Municipal Broadband.
Download the fact sheet from NCC here.
NCC’s fact sheet uses examples from municipal network history. Communities have invested in publicly owned fiber optic infrastructure to obtain better connectivity and to reduce telecommunications costs for municipal facilities. In more than a few places, those investments became the foundation for what later became networks to serve local businesses and residences.
NCC’s fact sheet looks at the long-term value of investment versus long-term savings. In addition to faster, more reliable connectivity, residents who chose slight tax increases to fund the investments still came out ahead — overall, paying less for better service from their publicly owned network than they had from poor quality DSL service.
The fact sheet also delves into other benefits, such as economic development, improved efficiency of other utilities, and accountability. NCC uses specific examples from places such as Ammon, Idaho; Longmont, Colorado; and Clarksville, Tennessee. With so many communities served in some fashion by a municipal network — approximately 500 — finding examples isn’t difficult; choosing which to include on a fact sheet is the challenge.
Moving Past the Roadblocks
As NCC notes, some states still prevent local communities from investing in infrastructure to develop municipal networks. Whether de facto or outright bans, these harmful barriers serve no purpose other than to maintain monopolies for the existing national ISPs. The results are detrimental for residents and businesses that need better connectivity and competiton.
NCC encourages states to allow local communities the authority to invest in municipal networks and to make local governments eligible for state funding. States that already follow these two suggestions are moving ahead, while those that maintain their stubborn roadblocks see negative affects.
Download The Opportunity of Municipal Broadband [PDF] and share it with your elected officials, neighbors, and people you know who want better connectivity.
Be sure to check out the other NCC resources and encourage your city and county leaders to join NCC at no charge, where they can connect to other community leaders interested in improving local Internet access.