Telecommunications reaches almost every aspect of our daily lives. Today, communities are looking for cost effective ways to expand accessibility, achieve reliability, and save precious public dollars. More and more community leaders pursue local control of connectivity through public ownership, cooperative models, and other nonprofit approaches.
At MuniNetworks.org, we provide resources for those joining the movement to build broadband networks that are directly accountable to the communities they serve. Case studies, fact sheets, and video are some of the media we offer to help leaders make decisions about community owned networks.
We strive to offer resources for informed decisions because we know each community is unique. Telecommunications infrastructure is essential to the health and vitality of a community. Networks must be accountable first to the needs of the community, not the short-term interests of shareholders.
This site was made possible with funding from the Media Democracy Fund, Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. It was created and is maintained by the Community Broadband Networks Initiative of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
We work with communities across the United States to create the policies needed to ensure telecommunications networks serve the community rather than a community serving the network. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is a non-profit organization that started in Washington D.C. in 1974.
The Institute’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.
While Cox Communications can make rate decisions in a private conference room several states away, Lafayette conducts its business in an open forum, as it should. While Cox can make repeated and periodic requests for documents under the Public Records Law, it is not subject to a corresponding obligation – a “show me your plans, but don’t dare ask to see mine” mentality. Louisiana law limits the ability of a governmental enterprise to advertise, but nothing prevents the incumbent providers from spending millions of dollars in advertising campaigns. An important focal point of the legal challenges involved the right or ability of Lafayette to pledge assets of the utilities system as security for the bonds, something that the private corporations do all of the time without the slightest scrutiny. To be sure, the “playing field is not level,” but it is the government which is disadvantaged, not the private companies.