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Analysis In what could prove to be an important turning point in the rollout of fiber across the US, this week the Arkansas congressional committee voted to repeal their state's prohibition on municipal broadband.
Meanwhile just 500 miles away in a neighboring state, what was once held out as the savior of Americas internet – Google Fiber – has said it is dumping its service and customers have two months to find themselves another ISP.
Access - Land - Free - Step - Steps
So it is for fast internet access in the Land of the Free: one step forward, two steps back.
The Congressional committee met in Little Rock, Arkansas and voted unanimously to get rid of restrictions that have prevented local governments in the state from setting up their own internet networks.
State - Capitol - Pass - Law - Cities
Why would a state capitol pass a law that stops cities from creating fiber networks in the first place? The answer is quite simple: Big Cable lobbyists. Municipal networks are the biggest potential threat to Big Cable's extremely profitable control of Americans' internet.
Installing fiber is incredibly expensive, time-consuming and bureaucratic. Outside the huge cable companies, there is really only one group that can pull together the capital requirements and get all the necessary approvals: local governments. And, because any such effort would be funded by their own taxpayers, that network would be owned by the government.
Approach - Big - Cable - Business - Model
That approach has Big Cable terrified because it undercuts their entire business model by taking away their control of the physical wires. And so, for several years, lobbyists have flooded state capitols and, in many cases, successfully persuaded lawmakers to pass legislation preventing local governments from even considering taxpayer-owned fiber networks. In many cases the wording has been almost identical from state to state.
But years later, and with citizens across the US still complaining about slow, expensive internet and being told there's nothing that...
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