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Should States Fund Municipal Broadband and Cooperatives?

March 24, 2022

By Kevin Schwartzbach

Despite the more than $1.6 trillion private internet service providers (ISPs) have invested in broadband infrastructure since 1996, the internet landscape in the US faces significant challenges. Over 30 percent of American households do not have broadband at home, while as many as 42 million do not have the option to purchase it in the first place, especially in rural areas. Millions more are unsatisfied with the internet they do have. Moreover, large ISPs face little or no competition in most US markets, resulting in internet service that is comparatively more expensive than most peer nations while also not being relatively fast.

As private ISPs have struggled to tackle these issues, two related models have emerged as creative alternatives: municipal broadband and cooperatives. These models differ from private ISPs in that they are locally controlled—local governments or public utilities in the case of municipal broadband networks and subscribers in the case of cooperative networks—and are more focused on expanding access and affordability for residents than in making a profit. Today, there are over 600 communities served by a municipal network of some kind and 300 served by a cooperative.

Continue reading here: https://rockinst.org/blog/should-states-fund-municipal-broadband-and-cooperatives/

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