This day in age broadband is a necessary utility for everyday life. Individuals without broadband are disadvantaged. Numerous studies show that broadband helps communities in the following ways:
- Economic Growth – High speed accelerates business development and provides new opportunities for commerce. Communities that connec their residents create wealth and attract business investments.
- Healthcare - Telemedicine promotes better patient care, and save lives as well as providing cost savings.
- Education – Broadband acces levels the playing field when it comes to educational resources. Schools now send studens home with iPads and require homework be completed online. Higher Education is now conducted in a virtual environment
- Property Values - Reliable, high-speed broadband service can add more than $5400 to the value of the average home. For homes where 1Gbps service was available, sales prices were 7% higher than for homes with broadband speeds of 25 Mbps or lower.
- Information Access – Rapid electronic information retrieval is necessary for work, job applications, paying bills, and accessing health information, education, and many other areas of life.
Many rural community residents have serious issues gaining access to broadband. The Michigan Broadband Cooperative (MBC) and the Western Washtenaw Broadband Initiative have discussed this issue with many service providers. All the service providers provide the same feedback. Building infrastructure in our rural communities is too expensive. There is not enough population density to generate a return on invest in a 3-5 year timeline.
More and more frequently rural communities are looking to their municipalities to help build infrastructure. While private enterprise does a good job of providing broadband where profitable, it leaves the vital needs of rural communities unmet. Municipalities have a long history of building and maintaining critical infrastructure such as telephone and electrical systems. Broadband is another utility that municipalities can provide their residents. We should not require residents to beg big corporations when they have the power to take matters into their own hands.
MBC is a grass roots, non-profit organization driven by the citizens of rural Washtenaw and Jackson counties. MBC’s ultimate goal is to provide an abundance of bandwidth on reliable networks for a reasonable price, and to deliver gigabit service over fiber optic cables to every home in our community. MBC was formed to focus community support, aggregate funding, and build physical, open access broadband infrastructure.
There are dozens of examples of successful deployments of municipal networks. The following are a few:
The city started by reselling DSL and building a modest wireless network. Now it offers symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps for $39.95 or 1 Gbps for $59.95. Sandy’s experience offers lessons for local governments across the country
The first village in Michigan to offer gigabit service. Like many other small communities Sebewaing residents were limited to dial-up. After building a new infrastructure Sebewaing offers residents symmetrical speeds of 30Mbps for $35 per month, or 100 Mbps for $130.
The city created a fiber-optic wide area network to provide its residents, businesses, schools, and government buildings with super high-speed connectivity. As rural areas increasingly compete for economic development dollars, Kutztown has lowered cable television and telephone rates and offered state-of-the-art broadband to its residents
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