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municipal broadband

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Municipal broadband is high-bandwidth internet access that is funded either in part or completely by municipal government. Where existing commercial service fails to provide adequate bandwidth for a community, municipal broadband can sometimes fill connectivity needs.

Often, municipal broadband provides high speed-access for a lower cost than offered by traditional providers or even free of cost, making it a concern of ISPs (internet service providers). Municipal broadband may be provided by way of unlicensed wireless methods like Wi-Fi, through wireless mesh networks or through licensed ones such as WiMAX.

Fiber to the Home (FTTH) deployment can make the most sense in the long run, although it is expensive, considering constantly rising bandwidth use. Sometimes existing unused dark fiber can be used for municipal connectivity, exploiting existing untapped infrastructure investment while lowering costs. A municipal broadband network may be publicly run and funded or privately run with public funds.

In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lost a battle with ISPs to keep individual states from limiting expansion of municipal broadband. The effort was to increase competition in the broadband market. The FCC was relying on the congress-provided authorization to remove barriers to investment. However, the hearing found that the FCC's case was not thoroughly supported by the quoted section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996.

This was last updated in April 2017

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