FEATURE ARTICLE – Taking Control of your Broadband Future

How can municipalities take control of their broadband future?

Many municipalities continue to live with inadequate broadband for their community. Residents and businesses cannot get the quality broadband they need or any broadband at all. Municipalities are impeded in providing new services and the local economy and overall community vitality suffers. Commercial ISPs are unwilling or unable to improve your broadband and yet resist any attempts by municipalities to take control of their broadband future.

Standing still is not an option. The status quo will not change unless municipalities take the initiative. However, the most common approach to solving the problem is for municipalities to build and operate their own municipal broadband network. Credit to those that do this, but in many cases this becomes a continual struggle to avoid operating losses and recover the investment, while operating in the face of strong resistance.

Here is the root problem. Commercial ISPs don’t invest in network expansion or upgrades because there is no business case to do so for your community. They do not see a payback from that investment and they have already captured the most lucrative part of your market. You need to ask yourself …

“Can we really build and operate a profitable, competitive network when the incumbent providers, who already have networks and customers, don’t see the business case to invest any further?”

This model of replicating the traditional ISP model and competing in the free market, albeit with better and more available broadband, is really a backward-looking approach and one that will always be a struggle. Fortunately, there is a better way available to any municipality serious about owning its broadband future. It starts by recognizing and embracing broadband as the essential infrastructure of the 21st century. It is enabled by maturing technologies that allow you to build open access virtualized networks that not only provide the high-speed platform your community needs, but also enables even more competition from internet providers. You put the users within your community in control rather than having them held hostage to whatever is available, and you can do this without becoming an internet service provider yourself.

Let’s go out on a limb and say that there is no municipal leader who wakes up one day and says, “what I really want to do is to become an ISP”. This is only a means to achieve your true goal, which is to ensure that everyone in your community can get affordable, quality broadband if they want it. It is about providing internet access, but it is also much more than that. It is about everything you can do with a high-quality broadband infrastructure that makes your community a desirable place to live and do business.

It is time for a new approach … to change the paradigm based on a broader vision. To find out more read the full article “How can municipalities take control of their broadband future?

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