Local municipal broadband and a publicly-owned internet can and *is* being done around the country – and it works! When done right it not only helps keep costs down, but is the answer to once and for all ensuring the protection of Net Neutrality! (You can read more about how Concord, MA is accomplishing this in this Washington Post report on “Saving Net Neutrality, One House at a Time”).
My own home is one among the countless others in this nation not being serviced by the cable companies, who don’t want to bother to connect them if they can’t make enough profit off of it. As a society, as a state, as a nation, we cannot afford to allow this digital divide to continue to increase. In the 20th century, progressive policies were put in place to make sure that all of the nation should have access to electricity and telephone service, which was at the time quickly becoming *the* essential mode of communication. Ensuring that all Americans were connected to these essential utilities was understood to be a key necessity to expanding and strengthening our economy and society, from which we all benefit.
The same goes for the internet today. As the de facto utility that it effectively is, the internet is much too important for decisions about who has access to it and who controls it to be left to a small handful of special interests who personally benefit from that control, often at the expense of the majority of others. This is why I support encouraging the development of local or state broadband initiatives, or at the very least, breaking up the monopolistic control over our internet by a narrow handful of huge corporations, and demanding *real* competition between ISPs in ways that have *real* impacts on improving our internet infrastructure and our citizen’s abilities to use it. It is a sad and unnecessary fact that the U.S. continues to have some of the highest internet costs, currently ranked 114th in affordability, with some of the poorest quality ratings among our industrialized competitors in the world. This is primarily due to the lack of competition among these huge monopolistic telcos that control our internet infrastructure today. (“These maps show why internet is way more expensive in the US than Europe: Telecom companies appear to split up territory to avoid competition”)
We often talk about way’s to invest in making Ohio’s communities and our economies stronger and more competitive in the global marketplace. Having high-speed, lower cost internet is absolutely essential in making that happen. Instead of throwing our money away in failed programs like JobsOhio (to say nothing of it being stolen in scams like ECOT), we should be investing in *infrastructure* like this, which allows for all the participants in our economy to operate and thrive on an even playing field.
Unfortunately, all-too-many members of the GOP have made this a senselessly partisan issue, as they serve their corporate donors over the interests of the citizenry by consistently working to undermine Net Neutrality and to prevent public investment into our ability to use the internet. This in spite of the fact that we continue to see overwhelming demand that access to the internet remains available and affordable.
As tech analyst/journalist Karl Bode stated, “If you’re an ISP or their political ally and you think this [opposing Net Neutrality and *real* internet competition] ends well for you, you’re in painful denial.”
Learn more about how local public broadband is working throughout the country at Community Networks: A Project of the Instituted For Local Self-Reliance