Municipal Broadband

internet speed

source: 57 Cities Now Have Free Wi-Fi, But They’re Not Thinking Big Enough

In August, Los Angeles, began research on a program that would make it the largest city in the country to blanket the city in free Wi-Fi. Currently, over 57 U.S. cities are providing “muni Wi-Fi” on some level. These cities hope “muni-Wi-Fi” will provide job opportunities to their underserved populations, facilitate waves of innovation, and brand the city as tech-friendly.

A 2011 study demonstrated that doubling the broadband speed for an economy increases GDP by 0.3%.

In a 2012 survey 90% of professionals in economic development organizations agreed that a broadband speed of at least 25-50 Mbps is needed to attract new business to a city, with over a quarter concurring that 1,000 Mbps would be needed.

Since first offering its fiber optic service in 2012, Chattanooga, Tenn. has generated $400 million in new business investments and 6,000 new jobs. Additionally, fiber optic networks generate significant revenue, allowing cities to cover operating expenses and pay down initial costs. In 2014, Chattanooga is expected to bring in $93.6 million in revenue from its more than 50,000 fiber optic subscribers.


  • 31% of Texas adults don’t have broadband — high-speed internet — at home
  •  Prohibiting rural municipalities from creating their own broadband network hurts private sector job creation
  • 39% of rural Americans (23 million people) lack access to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
  • Hundreds of Cities Are Wired With Fiber—But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unused
  • In 2009, the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Task Force reported that approximately 70% of teachers assign homework requiring access to broadband
  • Acknowledge the issues and challenges with previous state and federal funding by encouraging municipal financing
  • Internet providers are thinking of placing ‘data caps’ on home internet similar to internet usage on phones
  • The FCC has re-classified broadband speed as 25mbps


  • Amend the Texas constitution so municipalities can build and sell broadband services similar to 29 other US states
  • Amend the Texas constitution allowing for referendums so municipalities can build and sell broadband services similar to 4 other US states
  • Implement a feasibility study of using state TANF funds to provide discounted internet access for families that are up to 200% of the federal poverty guideline, similar to the federal lifeline program
  • Wi-Fi enabled school buses for rural communities
  • Municipal fiber network will let customers switch internet service providers in seconds
  • Although cities are prohibited from selling broadband, they could offer access for free like other cities
  • Pass a ‘mandatory access’ law for Multiple Dwelling Units. When resident requests a given internet and cable service provider, then the building owner must let that service provider into the building, subject to some requirements related to space limitations, compensation for costs directly incurred, and other stipulations. (similar to 19 states and multiple US cities)
  • Free wifi on park and ride, light rail, transit centers and specific bus routes/stops with heavy traffic
  • Ban mobile throttling in disaster areas

San Antonio Business Journal – GVTC continues roll out of gigabit-speed fiber internet in Boerne

Brookings – Closing the broadband access gap in American cities

Next City – Mayors Must Step Up for Broadband

Next City – How the Tiny Town of Leverett, MA Got Itself the Internet

Next City – Are Public-Private Partnerships the Best Path to Municipal Broadband?

Fast Compnay – Wi-Not? South Korea’s Seoul To Blanket The City With Free Wi-Fi

Social Science Research Network – Bringing Municipal High-Speed Internet Access to Leverett, Massachusetts

Next Century Foundation – 44 Mayors and City Leaders Support Modernizing Federal Lifeline Program to Include Broadband

NCSL – Broadband Statutes

Houston Maters – Why is Municipal Broadband Illegal in Texas? And Could that Change?

Helsinki’s free, city-wide Wi-Fi network is faster than your home internet

Houston municipal wi-fi network (finally) debuts

Houston Chronicle – Cities have no business monopolizing broadband

Texas Municipal League – FCC Decides Municipal Broadband Petitions and Net Neutrality

Slate – The Lobbyists and Legislators Who Kill Municipal Broadband in America

Slate – Republicans Are Coming Around to This Public Internet Idea

Cities, States Face Off On Municipal Broadband

CNN – Chattanooga’s super-fast publicly owned Internet

The Guardian – Chattanooga’s Gig: how one city’s super-fast internet is driving a tech boom

Tennessee sues FCC to stop expansion of municipal broadband

New Yorker – Why the F.C.C.’s Municipal-Broadband Ruling Matters, Too

Business Journal – Google Fiber could be a game changer for San Antonio economy, mayor said

Free Press – Net Neutrality

The Stranger – Municipal Broadband in Seattle Took a Small Step Forward Today

The Stranger – Mayor Murray Makes Encouraging Noises About Broadband Internet

Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Net Neutrality

New York Times – U.S. Struggles to Keep Pace in Delivering Broadband Service

New York Times – Chattanooga’s Innovation District Beckons to Young Entrepreneurs

New York Times – Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind

New York Times – Broadband Law Could Force Rural Residents Off Information Superhighway

The Guardian – New Yorkers to get free Wi-Fi via old phone booths in Google-funded project

57 Cities Now Have Free Wi-Fi, But They’re Not Thinking Big Enough

Wired – The Connected City and the Future of Free Wi-Fi

Wired – Chattanooga Is Offering Internet Faster Than Google Fiber

Wired – The First US City With 10 GB Internet Is … Salisbury

Wired – Comcast’s Google Fiber Rival Will Be Laughably Expensive

Wired – Schoolkids Don’t Just Need iPads. They Need Data Plans

Business Insider – 9 Cities With The Best Free Wifi

Free Press – New Initiatives Aim to Bridge San Francisco’s Digital Divide

NPR – See The 10 States With The Fastest Internet Connections

NPR – Monticello municipal broadband slugs it out

NPR – As Cities Push For Their Own Broadband, Cable Firms Say Not So Fast

NPR – Frustrated Cities Take High-Speed Internet Into Their Own Hands

Motherboard – After Legal Defeat, US Mayors Vow to Continue Municipal Broadband Fight

Motherboard – The 21 Laws States Use to Crush Broadband Competition

Motherboard – The Path to Community Broadband Runs Through an Army of Telecom Lawyers

Motherboard – Hundreds of Cities Are Wired With Fiber—But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unused

Motherboard – Why It’s So Hard to Bring Gigabit Internet to the US

Motherboard – Why Internet Access in the U.S. Is Slow and Expensive: There’s No Competition

Motherboard – South Korea’s Internet Is About to Be 50 Times Faster Than Yours

Motherboard – Huntsville’s Model for Google Fiber Is the Future of Broadband

Motherboard – Bandwidth: How First Nations Kids Built Their Own Internet Infrastructure

Common Dreams – Win for Telecom Giants as Court Puts Dagger in Municipal Broadband

City Lab – Why Are There No Big Cities with Municipal Broadband Networks?

Pew – Cities, States Face Off On Municipal Broadband

Pew – The numbers behind the broadband ‘homework gap’

Pew – The share of Americans with broadband at home has plateaued, and more rely only on their smartphones for online access

State Tech Insider – Newark, Del., to Study Municipal Broadband Options

The American Prospect – Municipalities Dream Big on Broadband

The Hill – Study: Half of telecom subsidy goes to phone company overhead

The Nation – Chattanooga Was a Typical Postindustrial City. Then It Began Offering Municipal Broadband.

The Tennessean – Chattanooga mayor: Gigabit speed internet helped revive city

The Recorder – The City of Rowe (Massachusetts) to self-finance broadband

Boston Globe – State to pay Comcast $4m to build out rural broadband

Daily Journal – Rural communities left behind due to lack of high-speed internet

Aspen Institute – Millions of children can’t do their homework because they don’t have access to broadband internet

Huffington Post – Bridging the Homework Gap

Cleveland initiative to help bridge digital divide, homework gap

PBS – Wi-Fi-enabled school buses leave no child offline

The Atlantic – When Students Can’t Go Online

Mic – Lifeline Could Revolutionize Welfare and Bring Wi-Fi to the People — But It’s Not Enough

CBPP – FCC Broadband Initiative Could Reduce Barriers to Low-Income Americans’ Advancement and Promote Opportunity

Fusion – This is what it’s like to be one of the 75 million Americans living without Internet access

Truth Out – These Cities Built Cheap, Fast, Community-Owned Broadband

Truth Out – The FCC Can’t Save Community Broadband — but We Can

Broadband Now – Municipal Broadband Roadblocks: 19 State Laws That Stop Your City From Installing Blazing Fast Internet

Minnesota Post – To close rural broadband gap, Minnesota communities consider public option

Minnesota Post – Battle over broadband: Minnesota slipping in efforts to get more high-speed Internet access

Choctaw Nation – Rural broadband dream way becoming reality

USA Today – Louisiana city blazes high-speed Web trail

USA Today – Let cities compete for broadband: Our view

USA Today – Google Fiber may expand to Dallas

Bill Moyers – Bringing High-Speed Internet to Cajun Country

Washington Post – 7 Colorado communities just secured the right to build their own broadband

ARS Technica – Colorado’s municipal broadband ban overridden in 44 communities

ARS Technica – Most of the US has no broadband competition at 25Mbps, FCC chair says

ARS Technica – Google Fiber joins forces with municipal broadband network

ARS Technica – Municipal fiber needs more FDR localism, fewer state bans

ARS Technica – “AT&T is the villain” in city broadband fight, Republican lawmaker says

ARS Technica – City ISP makes broadband free because state law prohibits selling access

Public Integrity – How big telecom smothers city-run broadband

Public Integrity – Where states stand on municipal broadband

Albama Gov. Bentley’s plan to bring broadband access to rural Alabama

Quartz – Nearly one in three American households have no choice when it comes to their internet

Texas Tribune – In Rural Texas, Living Without Home Internet

Statesman – Broadband map shows the bare spots in Texas

Statesman – Greg Abbott announces goal of bringing broadband access to all schools

Dallas News – Texas will strive to expand broadband access to all students by 2018

Dallas News – Susan P. Crawford: The case for publicly owned Internet service

Dallas News – Google Fiber’s high speed internet may come to Dallas

Rivard Report – How Google Fiber in San Antonio May Deter Internet as a Public Utility

Bloomberg – Let America’s Cities Provide Broadband to Their Citizens

Bloomberg – Let America’s Cities Provide Broadband to Their Citizens

Philly – What other cities should learn from Philly’s failed municipal broadband effort

Consumerist – Internet Giants Come Out In Support Of Municipal Broadband

The Eagle – College Station City Council approves leasing of fiber optic cables to cable and internet companies

Rocky Mount Telegram – Court halts broadband in Pinetops

ILSR – The Secrets Behind Partnerships to Improve Internet Access

ILSR – RS Fiber: Fertile Fields for new Rural Internet Cooperative

Deseret New – The communication needs of rural America cannot be neglected

Killeen Daily Herald – Coryell County residents want better Internet options

Johnson City Press – Cooperative companies on the frontline of rural broadband access

Arkansas Business – Broadband Efforts Take Cues from Rural Electrification

Alaska Dispatch News – How a fiber-optic cable could forever change life in Arctic Alaska

Yes Magazine – Tired of Waiting for Corporate High Speed Internet, Minnesota Farm Towns Build Their Own

Business Journal – A tiny Oregon city has already built its own gigabit Internet

Pacific Standard – The Town That Made Its Own Internet

Times Free Press – Study finds EPB fiber optics generates over $865 million in benefits for Chattanooga

Times Free Press – ‘AT&T is the villain’ in battle over rural broadband access, Gardenhire says

Forbes – How One Proactive Kentucky Municipal Utility Lowers Overall Electricity Costs To Customers

Government Technology – Kentucky’s Statewide Broadband Network Moves Forward with Build-out

Lexington Herald – Kentucky’s high-speed internet project should be done by mid-2019, Bevin says

Arkansas Business – Arkansas Cooperatives Apply Rural Electrification Model to Internet Access

Christian Science Monitor – No more dropped calls: NYC subway to get cell service, WiFi

Star Tribune – Pilot program brings Wi-Fi to some Metro Transit routes

San Diego Union Tribune – Free Wi-Fi back on Coaster trains

Streetsblog USA – More Transit Agencies Adding WiFi on Buses

How Governors Island became the launchpad for NYC’s 5G initiative

Best internet service in Texas? It might be in tiny Mont Belvieu

The Head of the FTC Just Debunked the FCC’s Favorite Excuse for Killing Net Neutrality

Texas lawmaker wants to ban mobile throttling in disaster areas

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