Home internet has been a crucial part of every household even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury nor the privilege to have their broadband services at home. The citizens have been turning to the government for help. That said, a poll conducted by Morning Poll has shown that fifty-four percent of American adults trust their local government to build their internet services. However, 18 US states make it challenging for their local sector to provide broadband services. The poll also showed a portion of citizens that do not approve of local internet services.
The Biden administration has recently proposed an infrastructure plan that includes broadband expansion across the United States, urban and rural areas. This proposal had a clear stance in their support and encouragement for the local sector to consider these ways. However, some states do not have these options to assess in the first place due to some of the laws implemented in their states.
The never-ending issue and debate regarding the establishment of local broadband networks have always been unclear. However, it seems unlikely for private cable and internet providers because they think that the local government might lack the required funds and equipment to support their internet services. On the other hand, those who support the local broadband build-out believe that it could slash fees and encourage intense competition between private internet providers and potential municipal internet providers.
Interestingly, five US states are going through a change regarding local internet build-outs. This early 2021, these states have established numerous bills that eliminate any restriction imposed on local broadband networks. While the municipal government is exerting efforts to provide internet service to their respective territories, the survey emphasized that citizens trust their municipalities, but not to the same extent that they give the major internet providers right now.
In the Morning Consult poll, 63% of respondents from urban areas trust the local municipality compared to the 49% from the rural area. The trust the public is willing to give between the current internet providers and municipal internet services is divided. It could be because the public is used to the former, so they gave more trust to them—however, NCTA’s exec. Vice President stated that these respondents might be anticipating the hurdles and issues the local government might face when they pushed through their broadband services.
Numerous towns have tried to start their internet projects, but most of them have failed throughout the years. Fortunately, more cities and small municipalities are considering establishing partnerships between them and private companies during this time. Spectrum internet is one of the companies would be a massive help for local broadband infrastructure build-outs.
Whatever proposal and plans are established and implemented, there is no doubt that it is risky for the local government since there is no guarantee that it would be successful. The first factor that will make this difficult for these municipalities is the funding they will need for the build-out. Unfortunately, funding is not the only problem they will face. The federal government is also facing a problem regarding the public internet. The digital divide is already too much to handle, yet the divide between the two political parties made it much worse.
The competition between internet service providers has been good for the past years. With the situation we are in right now, more and more people rely on excellent service to get through their work, education, and even medical appointments. The survey result still falls in favor of the internet providers. Still, a significant number has already put some of their trust in their municipalities to provide them reliable broadband services.
Building own broadband services will undoubtedly be challenging for both the federal and state government. Still, with the current administration’s effort to solve the homework gap, there is more hope for every sector and citizen that needs internet support from the local government. Although some citizens find it hard to trust their municipalities for now, maybe as they start to push through with the local broadband projects, more and more people will begin to trust them even more. There are only two outcomes that might happen for now as there are no clear proposals yet, success or failure.