Americans are notoriously frustrated with their lackluster internet service and they should be because it stinks! But what choice does the public have when internet providers refuse to expand their service into the areas that need it most?
Some cities, towns and villages are so fed up that they’re beginning to look into solving the problem themselves with municipal broadband and their residents seem to be pleased. Up to 54% of Americans have stated they have either “a lot” or “some” trust in their local government to give them the best home internet service.
What Is Municipal Broadband?
Municipal broadband is high speed broadband internet access that is either fully or at least partially owned by the local government. This is usually by a city, town or village that currently has little to no quality internet options either in speed or price and attempts to fix their current problem themselves after the privately owned internet providers that serve them won’t.
18 States Make Municipal Broadband Next To Impossible
Unfortunately, municipal broadband isn’t possible in all 50 states. In 18 states, local governments couldn’t even create municipal broadband options if they wanted to because their states have already passed laws to make it difficult to create a community network. Unless those states repeal the existing legislature that blocks municipal internet as a possibility, those residents won’t find any local relief anytime soon.
There’s an additional five states that actually took another look at the existing laws on their books and have since introduced bills to remove these prohibitive restrictions to municipal broadband. While the bill flopped in Montana, it was unanimously passed in Arkansas. Idaho, Tennessee and Washington haven’t made a decision for or against their pending bills just yet.
Why Municipal Broadband Is A Good Idea
If you live in a city, town or village without good internet service, municipal internet could be a good idea. Here’s why municipal internet supporters want to bring it to their hometown:
- Creates healthy competition
- Keeps internet prices down or more affordable for everyone
- Delivers faster speeds to areas currently neglected by private internet companies
- Boosts local economic development
Why Municipal Broadband Is A Bad Idea
Not everyone loves municipal broadband. Many are opposed to municipal internet because it’s just another thing that the government can stick their hands in and screw up. Here’s what the opponents of municipal internet say:
- The build out and maintaining costs are high
- Can’t charge less for internet service than it actually costs
- Incapable of truly competing in the free market
- Can put a huge burden on taxpayers
What Do American Citizens Think?
Municipal broadband is still a new concept, but as local governments push for better internet, American citizens could see more government owned or at least partly operated internet service. Here’s what the public thinks of municipal internet in 2021:
- Just over half or 53% of all adults think that local governments should be allowed to build their own internet networks if they choose to
- 14% are completely against local governments building their own networks
- Nearly a third or 33% of all adults don’t know or don’t have an opinion either way
- Three quarters or 75% of all adults trust private internet companies for the best at home internet
- Just over half or 54% of all adults trust local government to provide the best at home internet service
- Those who live in urban areas and/or those who identify as a democrat support municipal broadband than those who identify as republican and/or live in a rural area.
All these results are from a poll conducted in April 2021 by Morning Consult.