Local Control Allows Access for All
Broadband networks are not created equally. Unless you live in a smart city, internet access, quality, and reliability can be spotty at best, involving a patchwork of private providers. The reality in much of America – and especially rural, remote, and low-income areas – is that broadband networks, when available, offer users limited choices, slow speeds, expensive plans, and virtually no control.
The situation could get worse just as billions of dollars are poised to begin flowing to state and local governments for broadband expansion. Incumbent providers, for example, Frontier and many cable giants, are racing to deploy FTTX networks in select, higher-population, affluent areas, leaving less profitable and harder-to-access rural and low-income areas, once again, on the wrong side of the digital divide.
There is a way for all Americans to achieve equal and affordable access to high-speed, high-quality Internet. Public-private partnerships (PPP) involving local governments and private companies are pathways for designing, building, and operating municipally-owned FTTX networks.
Fiber is a future-proof technology that can easily meet growing public demand for bandwidth for decades to come. The greatest value of public-private partnerships is that municipal ownership makes broadband access a public utility where accessibility and pricing are tightly controlled. This public ownership results in reliable, affordable access for all, unlike private networks controlled by profit-driven companies that choose who, when, and where service will be offered.
In the Northeast, Sertex is working to light up fiber networks created by PPPs in Western Massachusetts and Rhode Island with BroadbandBI. In Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, forward-thinking communities are exploring the opportunities to leverage investments in Community Anchor Institution networks to build municipally-owned networks that extend fiber broadband to the last mile.