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750 U.S. communities have successfully built their own private internet networks to avoid big telecom monopoly


The internet situation in the U.S. is becoming more desperate every single day. Between the seemingly unlimited rights of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to do pretty much anything they want with their customers to the unbelievable lack of choices in many locations and the horrendously slow service and after-sales support being offered to paying users, it doesn’t look like things are going to improve any time soon.

However, there may be a silver lining in the cloud of terrible internet in the U.S., and it may be within reach for most municipalities if only they would take matters into their own hands. According to information presented by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a non-profit organization that advocates for local economies, there are now more than 750 different communities located all over the country that have successfully installed their own broadband networks. This is according to a freshly updated map that they have made available online as part of their ongoing efforts to document local initiative to fight against abusive ISPs.

According to a report on the Institute‘s latest update, there are currently at least 55 different municipal networks that are up and running, serving more than 108 communities with their very own publicly owned fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) internet network. At the same time, there are at least 76 communities that are able to offer locally owned cable network access, and that there are also more than 258 communities currently being served by a rural electric cooperative.

In case you’re wondering, the reason why these municipalities have begun to embrace alternatives to the standard methods of accessing cable and internet in their locations is that it is simply impractical not to do so. One recent Harvard study has shown that community broadband networks are typically more affordable than their private counterparts. Not to mention, the packages being offered are usually more transparent and less confusing than what is being offered through the likes of AT&T or Comcast. While it seems like ISPs try their hardest to befuddle their customers and cause them to make the wrong decisions, community broadband offerings help consumers make better decisions and give them what’s actually good for them.

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According to Christopher Mitchell, the director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the ILSR, things may not be so hopeless for the internet-using and internet-loving public in the U.S. after all. “What this update shows is that, despite federal hostility to community network solutions, more communities are investing than ever,” said Mitchell. “Municipal and cooperative networks were essential in driving electrification and we are seeing the same dynamic with the expansion of high-quality internet access.”

While it’s great to see that locally implemented community initiatives are thriving, the biggest ISPs are still doing everything that they can to make things more advantageous for themselves. Still, proponents of these projects maintain that it’s important to push forward in the fight against unreasonable ISPs.

According to information from the ILSR published late last year, there is evidence from other cities that “a real choice in broadband services could reduce Comcast’s revenues by millions of dollars per month.” Because of this, there’s hope that these local initiatives could cause ISPs to re-examine their position in the market and perhaps adjust their offerings to better compete with the currently available alternatives – or face elimination.

Read more about problems related to the use of the internet at CyberWar.news.

Sources include:

Motherboard.VICE.com

MuniNetworks.org

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