Andy Berke, the Mayor of Chattanooga (Tennessee) recently shared the benefits his city enjoys from municipal broadband services. The Tennessean reported:
"A pioneer in municipal broadband, Chattanooga developed its fiber network in 2010 with $330 million, paid for with $105 million in federal funds and the rest from bonds. The high-speed access led to direct and indirect economic gains and has been profitable."
Municipal broadband, a/k/a community broadband, is an affordable high-speed Internet Service Provider (ISP) built by the city, town, or municipality. It paid the cost to install fiber-optic cables to every home, not only to luxury buildings or select high-rise offices. A public-private partnership or third party may operate the network. Every resident and business that wants municipal broadband can sign up and easily get it; just like water, electricity, and gas services. Residents use municipal broadband for entertainment, education and online classes, remote work and tele-commuting, video conferencing, home-based businesses, new business startups, and more.
Mayor Berke listed the benefits Chattanooga enjoys:
"In the past three years, the city’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.1 percent from 7.8 percent and the wage rate has also been climbing. Volkswagen’s presence has boosted the manufacturing sector and 10-gigabit speed internet has fueled wage growth, Berke said, speaking at Fiber to the Home Council Americas conference at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center... “It changed our conceptions of who we are and what is possible,” Berke said... Downtown has doubled its residents and landlords often advertise gigabit speeds that are included in monthly rents... "
Other towns in Tennessee have installed municipal broadband services, including Tullahoma and Clarksville. How fast is 10 gigabits? It is the fastest service available. Some math:
1.0 gigabit = 1.0 Gb = 1,024 X 1,024 X 1,024 bits = 1,073,741,824 bits
10 Gb = 10 X 1,073,741,824 bits = 10,737,418,240 bits
And 1 byte = 8 bits. So:
10 Gb / 8 = 1,342,177,280 bytes
And 1.0 megabyte = 1.0 MB = 1,000 kilobytes
And 1.0 kilobyte - 1.0 kb = 1,000 bytes. So:
1,342,177,280 bytes / 1,000,000 = 1,342 MB
The bottom line: 10-gigabits is a far, far faster than the 25-, 50-, or 100 MB broadband speed you're probably getting from your current Internet Service provider (ISP). Electric Power Board (EPB) provides the municipal broadband service in Chattanooga. Besides the blazing 10 gigabit speed, it also offers slower speeds:
I compared prices. Comcast Xfinity in Boston costs $79.95 per month for 75 megabytes speed. That's both slower and more expensive. Plus, it's the old coaxial cables and not the new fiber optic technology. Old things usually cost less. Read and learn more about community broadband networks.
Compare the prices for where you live. You're probably getting poor value. You're probably paying a lot more. If you are paying less, then you're still paying more because you're probably getting a far slower speed. Now you know a better deal exists, and how sweet that deal is -- both faster and cheaper service.
This worldwide study found that municipal or community broadband networks provide consumers with the best value (e.g., highest speeds at the lowest prices via wired lines). Regular readers of this blog are aware that there are 19 states with laws that prevent local towns and cities from forming their own municipal broadband networks. These laws contribute to the lack of competition, and keep your monthly Internet prices higher than otherwise. Some States Attorneys General are complicit with limiting competition.
Several politicians and Presidential candidates support these states' laws that limit competition, under the guise of "states rights" freedoms. This subterfuge helps their corporate donors, and limits (and ignores) both the freedoms and rights of people in local cities and towns to get and develop their own faster, more affordable high-speed Internet services.
Some politicians tried to correct this in 2015 with the Community Broadband Act. Sadly, that legislation has gone nowhere in Congress. Contact your elected officials today and tell them you want municipal broadband now.
Now you know why I discuss municipal broadband in this blog. Consumers are missing out on a sweet deal.