Thursday, September 22, 2005

Broadband: Coming to a Town Near You

Free Press today unveiled extensive new online resources designed to educate the public and foster development of “Community Internet” projects around the country.

Get your own WiFi
In recent years, dozens of local communities have started providing high-speed broadband service to their citizens through a variety of wired and wireless technologies. Hundreds more cities and towns have municipal broadband systems on the drawing board.

Despite aggressive lobbying efforts by big telephone and cable companies to derail these projects, Community Internet is thriving.

Efforts to restore communications in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have brought greater attention to these systems from public officials. Wireless networks were the only means available for communications among New Orleans city officials after their satellite phones failed. In addition, wireless networks were quickly established at shelters after the storm and are being used to help evacuees locate and communicate with loved ones at distant locations.

Free Press' interactive map links to short profiles of more than 270 Community Internet projects across the country. The map is the most comprehensive list of Community Internet and municipal broadband projects available. It shows projects operated by local governments, public-private partnerships, schools, non-profits and community groups. It includes wireless mesh networks, fiber to the home systems, and those using broadband over power lines.

“Community Internet is the future of all communications,” said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. “In the near future, all media -- TV, telephone and the Web -- will be delivered to our homes via a broadband connection. These innovative projects are closing the digital divide and bringing much-needed competition to the broadband market.”

Big telecom and cable companies have responded by furiously working to slam the door on Community Internet. The telephone and cable giants are trying to use their lobbying clout in state capitals to pre-empt localities from offering the service, keep prices high and preclude competition. Fourteen states now have laws on the books restricting municipal broadband. Five states approved anti-municipal broadband measures in 2005. But in nine other states, attempts to restrict Community Internet were either defeated or delayed indefinitely.

The fight over Community Internet is now moving to Capitol Hill. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) recently introduced the Community Broadband Act of 2005 (S. 1294), which would “preserve and protect the ability of local governments to provide broadband capability and services.”

Free Press is mobilizing support of the bill, urging our members to contact their senators and ask them to co-sponsor the legislation. “The Community Broadband Act would ensure that local communities everywhere can decide for themselves how to best serve the technology needs of their citizens,” Scott said.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that community internet is a conspiracy on the part of hobgoblins and lawful evil sea trolls who wish to secretly spread their false religion.

Anonymous said...

shut up

Anonymous said...

Community internet is a intresting prospect. Of course, how would you like it if you had to buy your cable TV from the government, or your phone line. The WISP communitry (Wireless Internet Service Providers) have a a much larger coverage area. Private enterprise is what drives this country, why should the government do this when they can't even control something useful like gas prices.

Anonymous said...

The reason that big telco and cable companies are against community internet is that it means increased competition for them. Why the "private enterprise" people are arguing against competition is beyond me...

Anonymous said...

"private enterprise people" are always against competition when they hold a majority of the market or "channel". The same people are always in favor of competition when they want access to a market/channel.

They are very good at making it sound like there's a principle involved, but don't be fooled. There is no principle involved - aside from profit.

Anonymous said...

Government invovlement in any enterprise will not increase competition, it will squash it. A government entity does not have to come in on/under budget, it doesn't have to keep the board of directors happy and it sure as heck doesn't have to show a profit. I can't think of a single business that governemnt is in that hasn't been or couldn't be run more effectively by a private entity (certain things such as the police force/military should not be run by private enterprise for other reasons but cost effectiveness and quality of service are not them).

If the government wants to provide something to the citizens for free why don't they get us free water/sewer/trash/electricity?

It seems to me the people that are for municipal internet are people that think they are going to get it for 'free', which isn't going to happen, but they may get it at a discount by forcing someone else pick up the tab, but hey that is just the rich and they don't need all that money anywhere right?

Anonymous said...

If the monopilistic giants in this contry are all for competition and their service is
so superior why would they be so affraid of local communities jumping into there arena?
Just maybe there not as good as they want people to believe. Also what is wrong with local communities taking broadband profit and putting it back in there general funds? Could the extra cash help infastucture and lower taxes?

Thom K in CA said...

Need to fix the link for hearusnow, it defaults to .com but should be .org.

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