A growing number of cities are installing municipal broadband networks to offer residents and businesses better access to high speed internet. There is some indication that in the future this could end up being standard practice allowing more people to access the internet with ease. Let’s take a closer look at this possibility.
What Are Municipal Broadband Networks?
Municipal Broadband Networks are more or less broadband internet access services which have been at least partially, if not fully, funded by the local government. Many cities offer WiFi options, but due to an increasing demand for high speed internet access municipal fiber to home networks are quickly becoming more popular. There are even some developers who are incorporating broadband into their new communities in much the same way as they would water or electricity!
Municipal Broadband in Action
There are already a number of communities who have started experimenting with municipal broadband and one of those is Sanford, Maine. The city plans to install a 32 mile fiber optic loop which is predicted to offer broadband internet that could be up to 100 times faster than anything that is currently available. This will give the city a unique selling point in order to attract not only residents, but also businesses who are looking for a new home! The loop will offer local residents and businesses low cost access to high speed broadband. This is excellent news for Maine given that the state is notorious for slower internet and studies suggest that 80% of Maine households are currently unserved by high speed internet providers.
Stumbling Blocks For Municipal Broadband Networks
One of the issues that many cities are facing when it comes to creating a municipal broadband network is that certain state laws can get in the way. However, earlier this year the FCC set a precedent by voting to preempt state laws that were preventing Wilson, NC and Chattanooga , TN from building out locally run broadband networks. The FCC seem to be making this more of a priority than tackling net neutrality at the moment!
Several states still have laws in place and until the FCC steps in and pre-empts those as well it means that some cities could be severely limited when it comes to municipal networks. Let’s take Florida as an example. There are currently six different laws in Florida affecting municipal broadband. One of these laws prohibits the use of tax payer funds to build such a network while another requires the city to take plans for a municipal network before key ISPs in the area. This means that for now at least, Florida residents are going to have to look out for their own broadband deals such as these examples of Fios Tampa FL!
To sum up then…
Overall, it does seem likely that in years to come more cities will begin to adopt municipal broadband networks in order to bring affordable high speed internet to some of the more underserved communities. However, they will also need to lodge complaints with the FCC in order to have state laws pre-empted which effectively block the possibility of municipal networks, but given that a precedent has already been set this should not prove to be all that difficult.
This guest post was written by Neal Bricker. If you would also like to have your guest post published on Bizzvenue click here.
Feature image: Tim Dorr