Broadband Construction

At least 47 municipal broadband networks have been added across the U.S. since the beginning of 2021, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR).

The tally does not include what ILSR refers to as “a plethora” of other types of community networks, such as such as those from electric cooperatives deploying in rural areas or Tribal Nations building their own networks.

The ILSR estimated that there were 400 municipal broadband networks in 2021. These served 600 communities. Almost one-third provided access to every address in its footprint.

It seems that no two municipal networks are the same. Some examples:

  • A conduit-only network in West Des Moines, IA, is used by Google Fiber, Mediacom, Lumen and Mi-Fiber
  • In Alexandria, VA, the I-net serves local government operations and plans to partner with Ting to provide residents with FTTH services.
  • Yellowstone Fiber gained a leg up on its open access network in Bozeman, MT by working with a veteran municipal network, UTOPIA Fiber.
  • A large FTTH network is under construction in Knoxville, TN that plans to pass all 210,000 households in its 688-square-mile area within a decade.

“Instead of pleading with or giving additional handouts to the monopoly ISPs, they’ve decided to invest in themselves,” Ry Marcattilio, ILSR’s Associate Director for Research said in a prepared statement. “It’s exciting to see so much happening, especially since we know our numbers are not completely exhaustive as there are no doubt cities building networks that have not yet become active or reported service to the FCC.

One of the highest profile municipal networks is in Chattanooga. In 2022, power company EPB launched a quantum network in cooperation with Qubitekk.

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