Local Governments Get into the Broadband Business

Local governments have taken to providing their communities with the high-speed internet access they want and need.

Jun 15, 2016 | ARTICLE

Telecommunications have long been dominated by a few major providers. While the infrastructure and services they provide have helped launch economies into modern times, these services can fail to reach every community. Local governments, through a variety of methods, have taken to providing their communities with the high-speed internet access they want and need.

Lake County, Minnesota, placed 1,200 miles of fiber-optic cable throughout their sparsely populated county and parts of neighboring St. Louis County using federal funds in the form of a grant and low-interest loans. County-owned and privately operated, Lake Connections now provides fast and reliable service throughout the county and has already shown benefits to the local economy.

Local governments in Ohio invested in laying fiber-optic cable and then turning operations over to private firms. Some used for-profit arms of internet development advocacy groups; others leased their cable to existing telecommunications companies. By turning over operations, local governments avoid direct competition with the major telecommunication companies, generate tax-free revenue, and – through clever contracts – secure internet access for government services (e.g. schools, libraries, and first responders).

Read more about the Lake County, Minnesota story.

Read more about the Ohio stories.

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