Municipal Broadband: Demystifying Wireless and Fiber-Optic Options

Author(s): 
Christopher Mitchell - Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, 2008, January 15

The United States, creator of the Internet, increasingly lags in access to it. In the absence of a national broadband strategy, many communities have invested in broadband infrastructure, especially wireless broadband, to offer broadband choices to their residents.

Newspaper headlines trumpeting the death of municipal wireless networks ignore the increasing investments by cities in Wi-Fi systems. At the same time, the wireless focus by others diverts resources and action away from building the necessary long term foundation for high speed information: fiber optic networks.

DSL and cable networks cannot offer the speeds required by a city wishing to compete in the digital economy. Business, government, and citizens all need affordable and fast access to information networks.

Today's decisions will lay the foundation of telecommunications infrastructure for decades. Fortunately, we already know the solution: wireless solves the mobility problem; fiber solves the speed and capacity problems; and public ownership offers a network built to benefit the community.