The most advanced broadband communities supply their own communications networks.
Not one of the 14 winners of the ICF’s global “Most Intelligent Community” award, has had their network provided by a telecommunications company.
Networks that are provided with the mission of community value, are more advanced than those run to make a profit. Here are some examples of community-owned network activity:
- The Next Century Cities project in the US has 120 member cities that provide non-telco solutions; these include Boston, Boulder, Kansas City, Oakland, Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, South San Francisco
- 22 communities in Mass. are building their own gigabit networks
- In Connecticut, 46 municipalities representing more than half the state’s population have joined an effort to make Connecticut the first Gigabit State.
- In Grand Junction, Colorado, residents voted overwhelmingly to approve the city’s right to provide Internet access and local leaders are now exploring plans for a new community broadband network.
- Bristol, Virginia, serves most of its residents and businesses with a fiber to the premises network, and it was praised in the federal government’s National Broadband Plan as “a good example of the potential of community broadband in rural America.“
- The public-run municipal network model is very common in the Nordic countries (from Stockholm to Suupohja in rural Finland) and has led to very successful deployments, in terms of coverage, service availability, end-user sign up, competition levels, and financial sustainability.
Return on Investment from Network Ownership (Chattanooga, TN)
- ROI (new businesses, social benefits): $865.3-million
- Numbers of additional people employed: 2,800
- Influx of VC Funding: from $0 (2009) – $50-million (2014)
- “America’s first true Smart Grid”: Saving $50-million/yr
- New businesses enticed to Chattanooga: VW, Amazon, medical, 3D printing …anything with big data
Among the advantages that drive these communities to provision of their own network, are:
- Provision of an additional revenue stream for the community;
- Added online services and options;
- Lower cost of subscriber service for residents;
- Move up the value chain for business investment, both local and from abroad
- Ability to become the carriers’ carrier, renting network space to telecommunications providers
- Full use of any current network capacity in the community, and efficient use of other capacities already in place in terms of infrastructure and service delivery from community departments
- Revenues from businesses
- Savings to municipalities from hosting current online Public Service activities.