With the vast majority of Americans greatly overpaying for slow and unreliable broadband compared to connections in Europe and Asia, hundreds of communities have started building their own networks. Notable success stories (and the best places to get broadband in the US) are Chattanooga, Tennessee; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Monticello, Minnesota.
AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, CenturyLink, and others quickly responded - by trying to ban community networks in state legislatures. In May, Time Warner Cable finally bought legislation in North Carolina to effectively ban new community networks in North Carolina after more than four years of trying.
It quickly became clear that powerful incumbents like Time Warner Cable had convinced (with copious sums of campaign cash, no doubt) elected officials that community networks were all failures and, in any event, unnecessary because the big cable and phone companies were doing a great job providing services.
Over at Community Broadband Networks, we put together a video to compare community fiber networks to the big incumbent phone and cable companies. Because North Carolina had the biggest fight over this issue most recently, we used data from North Carolina:
We certainly understand why massive companies like AT&T and Time Warner Cable spend tens of millions to influence legislation in their favor. What baffles us is why Americans put up with state (and national) legislatures that transparently bend to the will of those companies rather than ensuring we all have the infrastructure necessary to thrive today.