The United States innovated many of the technologies behind the Internet, and we are home to some of the most important tech companies in the world. At one point, we led the world in connectivity, but we have fallen far behind in broadband.
The culprit? Boneheaded deregulation that allowed major technology firms to pay more attention to their shareholders than their consumers. I’ll be writing more on this soon, but for now, I want to focus on how the American people are pushing back.
Sick and tired of slow service and high rates, more than 100 communities have taken initiative and built their own community networks. This is the story of Wilson, North Carolina. This small city built Greenlight, a next-generation fiber-optic broadband network that runs circles around the private sector competition. The city is using the network to connect homes, schools, and businesses to the fastest broadband in the state.
Greenlight is a non-profit entity, so it was built with the community – not profit margins – in mind. The results are astounding – the public sector utility has out-competed the private sector and is winning customers in droves.
The Greenlight story is a great case study in how ordinary people can take their destinies into their own hands and push back against corporate behemoths. I’ve co-written a report with Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance about how the citizens of Wilson built their own broadband network, and the impact their actions have had in their community.