The latest findings add to a long-running battle over restrictions , often written by state legislatures and supported by telecom and cable companies - that prevent local governments from establishing home-grown rivals to ISPs such as AT&T or Charter and policy analysts say, the results underscore a gulf in attitudes about public infrastructure spending - though perhaps not the kind you may expect.
Substantial majorities of Democrats and Republicans back the ability of towns to build and sell their own Internet plans to local residents, according to the study.
Although conservatives are slightly more likely than liberals to say they are a bad idea, just 27 percent of Americans overall say local governments shouldn't be able to offer competing service, Pew's survey found. (The same study found that Americans largely oppose government subsidies for low-income Internet users, which is timely in light of a recent government decision.)
Proponents of independent Internet networks argue that a “public option” for Internet access could help drive down the price of broadband and increase speeds. Opponents say the expense of building new networks represents an unacceptable financial risk for many local governments.
"Municipal broadband networks too often end up failing and costing taxpayers millions," said US Telecom, a trade association representing Internet providers and telecom companies. Some public projects have resulted in high-profile failures.
In 2009, residents of
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But the movement to build public broadband has also led to successes. Long before Google Fibber came on the scene and began challenging incumbent ISPs, the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was competing aggressively with offers of downloads speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. In 2013, the city dropped its prices from $300 a month to $70 - and in 2015 opened up a new service tier of 10 Gbps.
After relying primarily on bond money and declining to fund
the project with a
Where they are allowed to, other towns have increasingly
moved to build their own independent networks. For example, the government of
Under those rules, the city's Internet network was not allowed to grow to serve neighbouring customers. Regulators at the Federal Communications Commission voted to supersede the state regulation, but a year later they were defeated when a federal court ruled the move unconstitutional.
Lawmakers in Congress lined up for and against the Federal
Communications Commission’s initial vote on a partisan basis, with Democrats
"The most striking thing is how out of touch