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Radio News: Harvard study reports municipal broadband is cheaper than commercial ISPs

Jan 14, 2018 10:50 pm
A new study from the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard finds that when municipalities in the United States build their own broadband networks, they are significantly cheaper for consumers then the services provided by telecommunication companies. The study only includes 27 community-owned broadband networks with at least the federal minimum 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload in communities where there was also comparable commercial service available. "We found that most community-owned fiber-to-the-home networks charged less and offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months.... We also made the incidental finding that Comcast offered different prices and terms for the same service in different regions," the study reports. While large companies such as AT&T, Time Warner/Charter, or Verizon can save money on economies of scale because they are larger, municipal broadband networks don't require high profits for the owners, nor do they need to spend so much on advertising. The telecommunications industry has convinced several states to not allow cities and towns to create their broadband networks because they do create cheaper access to the internet, which the study confirms. New York is one state that does not block communities from creating their own networks, with a bunch of municipal internet in the western part of the state near Rochester, and in that city. Chattanooga, Tennessee has the nation's largest municipal broadband network, with generally great reviews. Consumer Reports says that, "Some of the best-loved Internet providers are owned and run by local governments."