Syracuse Community Broadband Initiative Changes Name

The folks in Syracuse who are organizing for a community-owned network have changed their name from the Syracuse Municipal Broadband Initiative to Syracuse Community Broadband Initiative:

Syracuse Community Broadband Initiative is the new name of the project. This was done because the use of "municipal" seemed to create a number of misconceptions in the minds of some institutional leaders. We used the term "municipal" generically to mean community-owned, and community ownership and control is what we wish to emphasize. Moreover, the form of business entity we favor is not a municipal authority but a 501(c)(12) utility service, a special type of consumer cooperative designed for, e.g., telecommunications, power, and water utilities (there are over 2,000 such utilities in the U.S. today). We hope the new name will better convey the nature of the project.

In talking to people and journalists, I have also found some confusion around the term "municipal." Some assume this means a muni network would only serve city departments, schools, libraries, etc.

Making a network a coop rather than being owned by the local government may help win some support from those who are hostile to the government owning anything, but there are downsides as well.  Local governments have hundreds of years of experience building infrastructure and therefore have more financial tools available.  Funding a new coop can be a daunting challenge.  

We are very supportive of both approaches in our efforts to ensure broadband networks are structurally accountable to the communities they serve. As groups like these folks in Syracuse find solutions to these problems, we hope they will share their successes as well as lessons learned.