People increasingly want community owned internet service and corporations are trying to stop it. Community owned Internet services, commonly known as municipal broadband, offer cheaper and more transparent service than corporate internet providers.
Researchers suggest if communities want to protect their rights and expand quality internet access, then community owned broadband is an excellent way to do that. Additionally, where researchers were able to compare city-run prices to corporate prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices.
Civil liberties groups have recommended policies to accompany public internet systems so they are consistent with privacy, net neutrality, and free speech principles. They also recommend strict anti-censorship rules, community run oversight processes and that all residents be served equally. Experts suggest to offer public Wi-Fi services and to allow wired community members to run open-access points that people can use.
Corporations have consistently fought against the expansion of community owned internet providers. The nation’s largest internet service providers have developed or influenced laws that either limit or outright ban the development of community owned networks. The fight has included pushing anti-municipal broadband laws, lobbying against ballot initiatives, and suing cities that build their own networks.
There are twenty states with anti-municipal broadband laws discouraging the development of community owned Internet networks, ranging from outright prohibition to absurd bureaucratic hurdles.
Image adapted from: “wi-fi” by mista stagga lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0