Tiny Charlemont, Mass. (population 1,250 or so) has rejected an offer from Comcast to provide broadband in town and will instead pursue a $1.4 million town-owned broadband system, reports the local paper.
Community-owned Internet has long been a goal for a subset of New Hampshire geeks who think that our limited choices for residential service – cable from Comcast or whoever has the franchise in your town, DSL from the local landline phone company, and fading options over satellite – aren’t enough for the 21st century economy. The possibility of providing such service was blocked for years by the state legislature, which wouldn’t allow towns to float bonds to pay for such service because it was seen to be taxpayer-subsidized competition against free market forces. That changed this year with a bill that allowed bonding for projects that will connect premises that don’t have access to broadband as defined by the FCC — 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. If the definition of broadband at the FCC increases, so will the definition.
I’ll be interested to see if any municipal broadband projects show up at Town Meeting season next year.
Sounds like a great idea to be, as a firm believer in public ownership of basic utilities (EG water/sewage, energy/power, and now, decent phone and internet service, unless one chooses to do without it, which also sounds like a great idea. Aren’t I full of it.
‘taxpayer-subsidized competition against free market forces’. I never thought of monopolies as ‘free market’. If every service provider had equal access to every market them maybe you could call it free market.
I love the idea of taxpayer owned utilities. Putting basic services in the hands of people who care about people rather than people who care about profit seems like a win. I wish I was still in NH and had a chance to vote for this!
Given the fact that the Concord City Council did not give a darn what people thought about Main Street redo and so many other things I would not trust them for one second with broadband. The attitude of the City Council is to pat the taxpayers on the head and tell them “there, there, we know what is best.” Just sit down and keep quiet.
Some states have passed legislation to block municipal broadband.. in Colorado the legislation provided for local voter overrides … cities have done this and are providing up to 1Gb fiber to residents for $100 or less as I understand the numbers… where this has been rolled out cable companies have provided significant deals…
A better example may be the Town of Petersham, MA that is doing a Public/Private Partnership to being fiber broadband to town with little or no increase to the tax rate.