Municipal broadband is becoming a contentious issue in the race to establish ubiquitous high-speed Internet throughout the United States.
Last year, the FCC called on every state in the U.S. to reach 1-Gig internet speeds in at least one community by 2015. That challenge came after Google introduced its Fiber program to Kansas City, Kan., where gigabit speeds are available at the same cost most other ISPs charge for much slower services.
However, incumbent ISPs across the country have pushed back against these efforts. Shortly after the FCC's challenge, Irene Esteves, chief financial officer for Time Warner Cable, said that gigabit speeds are not necessary for most of its customers, and that the company saw little demand for it.
Regardless of whether that was true, cable lobbyists at the same time took legal measures to prevent municipalities from providing high-speed Internet to their residents. Legislation prohibiting the development of municipal broadband networks has already been passed in 20 states, and efforts continue to bring these bills up for consideration in new ones.