Broadband goes public

There's an interesting story over at Wired on publicly-owned broadband networks that have been built in some US cities as an alternative to private ISPs. In addition to being cheaper than broadband from private ISPs, publicly-owned networks have other advantages:
Frustrated by slow or spotty deployment of high-speed Internet services by private telephone and cable companies, a growing number of cities and counties are considering the possibility of constructing their own networks. In most cases, services are operated through the same public utility that currently provides electrical power.

"This is something that's much too critical to be left in the hands of the private sector," said Edward Stern, a city councilman in Poulsbo, Washington, who is pushing a plan to build out a community-owned fiber network.

At between $25-30 a month for service, publicly-owned broadband certainly does look like a good idea, especially for those who may not currently have access to private networks.

Personally, I'm far more excited about the possibility that publicly-owned broadband could one day be maintained as an essential service, which it really has become for many of us. As broadband Internet access becomes more important in many of our personal and professional lives, should governments be stepping in to build networks and provide more affordable and perhaps reliable service?

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