Reports Highlighted by MuniNetworks.org

Impact of CAF II-funded Networks: Lessons From Two Rural Minnesota Exchanges Left Underserved

Publication Date: 
June 21, 2018
Author(s): 
Bill Coleman
Blandin Foundation

This report from the Blandin Foundation digs deep into the federal Connect America Fund II (CAF II) subsidies for Internet service in Minnesota. Researcher Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors led a project that explored how federal Connect America Fund dollars have been used in two Minnesota telephone exchanges. In the end, researchers found that these networks would likely not meet Minnesota’s state connectivity goals.

Download Impact of CAF II-funded Networks: Lessons From Two Rural Minnesota Exchanges Left Underserved.

Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America

Publication Date: 
January 1, 2018
Author(s): 
David Talbot
Kira Hesselkiel
Danielle Kehl

The FCC collects data from Internet Service Providers that reflects census blocks where they offer service to at least one premise. Currently, the Commission does not collect information about rates subscribers pay. A new report from the Berkman Klein Center dives into prices subscribers pay and also looks at trends from national companies as well as local publicly owned networks. The report, Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America, supports what we’ve always found — that publicly owned networks offer the best all around value for the communities that make the investment. Download the report.

Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era

Publication Date: 
November 28, 2017
Author(s): 
H. Trostle
Christopher Mitchell

Rural communities across the United States are already building the Internet infrastructure of the future. Using a 20th century model, rural America is finding a way to tap into high-speed Internet service: electric and telephone cooperatives are bringing next-generation, Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks to their service territories. This policy brief provides an overview of the work that cooperatives have already done, including a map of the cooperatives' fiber service territories. We also offer recommendations on ways to help cooperatives continue their important strides.

Download the policy brief, Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era here.

Comcast Spends Big on Local Elections: Would Lose Millions in Revenue from Real Broadband Competition

Publication Date: 
November 2, 2017
Author(s): 
H. Trostle
Christopher Mitchell

As the company with one of the largest ISPs in the nation, Comcast Corporation makes daily investment decisions. They choose to put company funds into a variety of ventures, from theme parks to hair color; all that matters is that the investment pays off. During the 2017 election season, Comcast once again devoted funds to an investment it considered necessary - influencing elections in Seattle and Fort Collins, Colorado. We prepared a policy brief to look deeper into Comcast's investment into the elections.

Download the brief hereComcast Spends Big on Local Elections: Would Lose Millions in Revenue from Real Broadband Competition.

Ammon Report: "Enabling Competition and Innovation on a City Fiber Network"

Publication Date: 
October 4, 2017
Author(s): 
Paddy Leerssen
David Talbot

As Ammon, Idaho, celebrated the official launch of its publicly owned open access network on October 5th, 2017, the folks from Harvard University’s Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH), shared Ammon’s story in their new report. Enabling Competition and Innovation on a City Fiber Network, by Paddy Leerssen and David Talbot provides the details of the community’s pioneering network that uses technology to increase competition for the benefit of citizens.

Emerging Issues in Expanding Next-Generation Internet Access: 2017 Policy Agenda

Publication Date: 
April 4, 2017
Author(s): 
Next Century Cities

Next Century Cities’ “Emerging Issues in Expanding Next-Generation Internet Access: 2017 Policy Agenda” offers recommendations to local communities that want to improve and expand local connectivity. This policy agenda looks at some of the most recent issues facing cities and examines ways they’ve faced the challenges. Many of the examples in the policy agenda come from communities that are members of Next Century Cities.

Citizens Take Charge: Concord, Massachusetts, Builds a Fiber Network

Publication Date: 
February 6, 2017
Author(s): 
David Talbot
Waide Warner
Susan Crawford
Jacob White

A new case study recently released by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University describes how the community of Concord, Massachusetts deployed its extensive municipal fiber-optic network and smart grid. In Citizens Take Charge: Concord, Massachusetts, Builds a Fiber Network, the authors offer history, and describe the benefits to the community from better connectivity and enhanced electric efficiencies.

Smart Grid Paybacks: The Chattanooga Example

Publication Date: 
February 1, 2017
Author(s): 
David A. Talbot
Maria Paz-Canales

A new article from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society takes a look at the pay in and pay off from Chattanooga’s investment into its fiber-optic network. The article, Smart Grid Paybacks: The Chattanooga Example, was written by Davd A. Talbot and Maria Paz-Canales.

Crossed Lines: Why the AT&T-Time Warner Merger Demands a New Approach to Antitrust

Publication Date: 
February 1, 2017
Author(s): 
Marshall Steinbaum
Andrew Hwang

As federal agencies examine the AT&T - Time Warner merger, how we analyze antitrust also needs to be reevaluated - especially in the telecommunications industry. A new report from the Roosevelt Institute takes a closer look at how antitrust enforcement philosophy has changed and how that change has enabled the current state of telecommunications in which a few large anticompetitive players control the market. The authors offer recommendations and cautionary predictions that may arise if we continue without reassessing how we scrutinize these large scale mergers.

The report notes how scrutiny of mergers has come to depend on the perceived harm the results will have on consumers, but such a narrow focus results in harming competition.

Instead, regulators should adopt a more holistic view of market power, specifically incorporating analysis of upstream impact of anticompetitive behaviors, especially those enabled by mergers. This would entail closer scrutiny of vertical mergers, positive price discrimination, and non-price-based schemes to profit excessively by withholding access to consumers.

 

North Carolina Connectivity: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Publication Date: 
October 11, 2016
Author(s): 
H. R. Trostle
Christopher Mitchell

North Carolina's digital divide between urban and rural communities is increasing dangerously in a time when high quality Internet access is more important than ever. Rural and urban areas of North Carolina are essentially living in different realities, based on the tides of private network investment where rural communities are severely disadvantaged. The state has relied too much on the telecom giants like AT&T and CenturyLink that have little interest in rural regions.

Download the Report

The state perversely discourages investment from local governments and cooperatives. For instance, electric co-ops face barriers in seeking federal financing for fiber optic projects. State law is literally requiring the city of Wilson to disconnect its customers in the town of Pinetops, leaving them without basic broadband access. This decision in particular literally took the high-speed, affordable Internet access out of the hands of North Carolina's rural citizens.

The lengths to which North Carolina has gone to limit Internet access to their citizens is truly staggering. Both a 1999 law limiting electric cooperatives' access to capital for telecommunications and a 2011 law limiting local governments' ability to build Internet networks greatly undermine the ability of North Carolinians to increase competition to the powerful cable and DSL incumbent providers. 

In the face of this reality, the Governor McCrory's Broadband Infrastructure Office recommended a "solution" that boils down to relying on cable and telephone monopolies' benevolence. What this entire situation comes down to is a fundamental disadvantage for North Carolina's rural residents because their state will not allow them to solve their own problems locally even when the private sector abandons them.

"It's not as if these communities have a choice as to what they're able to do to improve their Internet service," says report co-author Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. "There's a demonstrated need for high-quality Internet service in rural North Carolina, but the state literally refuses to let people help themselves."

Map of access to two or more broadband providers in North Carolina

Read ongoing stories about these networks at ILSR’s site devoted to Community Broadband Networks. You can also subscribe to a once-per-week email with stories about community broadband networks.

From The Report:

  • Despite significant tax subsidies from the state and federal government, North Carolina's private providers are building their fiber-optic networks only in certain metro areas and none in rural regions.
  • Only 12 percent of North Carolina's rural population has a choice for their broadband access, the rest are stuck with only one option and no control over their Internet prospects.
  • All of North Carolina's telephone cooperatives are investing in fiber for members in their service territory, some have entirely replaced their copper lines with fiber-optic. 
  • While North Carolina has 26 electric cooperatives capable of bringing fiber-to-the-home to rural residents, a 1999 state law (N.C. Gen. Stat § 117-18.1) limits the co-ops' access to capital for telecommunications projects.

Download the Report

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