When incumbent providers cannot serve the broadband needs of some localities, local governments should be allowed—no, encouraged—to step up to the plate and ensure that their citizens are not left on the wrong side of the great divide. – Michael Copps, former FCC Commissioner
Many communities are struggling with limited Internet access options. DSL and cable may be available but the prices increase nearly every year, often without improvements in technology or service. A lack of universal fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access results in less economic development, fewer educational opportunities, and a lower quality of life, particularly for low-income families and communities of color. Only a few US cities have access to much faster networks, often at more affordable prices similar to what is available in peer nations. (cont…)
As Princeton moves forward to the design phase of a proposed high-speed fiber optic network, residents must decide how they will vote on a motion to approve the project later this year. Proponents of the plan understand the importance of in-home access to fast, affordable Internet, low-cost telephone service, and high performance streaming video capabilities. Opponents say we do not need access to the Internet or that we should wait a few years for something better and cheaper. Others believe it’s a poor investment and a financial burden we can’t afford, one that will only saddle taxpayers with a hefty bill.
Some of those who oppose the project point to a search engine generated list of public municipal broadband projects around the country that have failed or are in serious financial jeopardy, making the assumption that the same scenario will most certainly occur in Princeton. We believe that those attempting to connect the dots from failed networks to Princeton’s plan, which is still in its early stages, lack a full understanding of the sequence of events that led to these failures in other communities.
Local governments that have built their own networks are seeing tremendous savings and better reliability. By owning the network, local governments have greater certainty over future costs because they determine the upgrade cycle…[B]ut the beneﬁts of public ownership go far beyond budgets. Owning the network allows the community to take advantage of technological innovations on its own time table, not one set by a distant corporation.