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Publically-Owned Fiber Optic Networks Serve Rural Cities

Publically-Owned Fiber Optic Networks Serve Rural Cities

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has recently released a map that they compiled of the United States, showing all of the communities throughout the country that own access to the Internet. These communities, about 340 of them in all, receive Internet just like they get their electric utility – straight from the city.

While nineteen states have already passed legislation discouraging or preventing local communities from building their own fiber optic networks, it is interesting to get a deeper look at the communities that have invested in telecommunications networks, such as Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga is home to a two-year-old citywide fiber network that serves about 170,000 households.

The key take-away from this fiber network map released by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is that smaller, more rural cities are the ones with their own networks, not big cities. Chattanooga is in fact the biggest city on the map that has its own network. One reason for this is that smaller communities tend to have more trust in and rapport with their local government. On the other hand, residents in bigger cities tend to be less connected to City Hall and are therefore less accepting of government-run utilities like the Internet.

In big cities, there’s also another significant obstacle to publically-owned networks: telecom providers are very motivated to fight for their hold in larger markets. “Comcast and AT&T don’t really care about Chattanooga,” says Christopher Mitchell, who directs the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative at the Institute.

At GeoTel Communications, our fiber network maps integrate telecom infrastructure data with geospatial technologies so that cities and local governments can analyze fiber network assets in a spatial, map-like environment and make decisions about planning new networks, such as perhaps their own fiber optic network. To order any of GeoTel’s data sets for a particular city or metro area, give GeoTel Communications a call at (800) 277-2172.

Valerie Stephen