Communities invest in telecommunications networks for a variety of reasons - economic development, improving access to education and health care, price stabilization, etc. They range from massive networks offering a gig to hundreds of thousands in Tennessee to small towns connecting a few local businesses.
This map tracks a variety of ways in which local governments have invested in wired telecommunications networks as well as state laws that discourage such approaches.
Our map includes over 450 communities (updated Jan, 2015):
89 communities with a publicly owned FTTH network reaching most or all of the community.
76 communities with a publicly owned cable network reaching most or all of the community.
Over 180 communities with some publicly owned fiber service available to parts of the community.
Over 110 communities with publicly owned dark fiber available.
Over 40 communities in 13 states with a publicly owned network offering at least 1 Gigabit services.
Nineteen states have barriers in place that discourage or prevent local communities from deciding locally if such an investment is a wise decision. We strongly believe these decisions should be made locally, based on needs, capacity, and desire of the community itself.
Click on the pin of a network to learn more about it or click on a state with barriers (in red) to learn about the limitation. Below the map, you may select what types of information you want to display.
We continue to expand this map with other forms of publicly owned networks. Still to come are wireless networks, networks serving community anchor institutions, and more. Get updates by signing up for our one-email-per-week list announcing new stories and resources.
I therefore lay down the following principle: That where a community--a city or county or a district--is not satisfied with the service rendered or the rates charged by the private utility, it has the undeniable basic right, as one of its functions of Government, one of its functions of home rule, to set up, after a fair referendum to its voters has been had, its own governmentally owned and operated service.
That right has been recognized in a good many of the States of the Union. Its general recognition by every State will hasten the day of better service and lower rates. It is perfectly clear to me, and to every thinking citizen, that no community which is sure that it is now being served well, and at reasonable rates by a private utility company, will seek to build or operate its own plant. But on the other hand the very fact that a community can, by vote of the electorate, create a yardstick of its own, will, in most cases, guarantee good service and low rates to its population. I might call the right of the people to own and operate their own utility something like this: a "birch rod" in the cupboard to be taken out and used only when the "child" gets beyond the point where a mere scolding does no good.