Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America

17 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2018 Last revised: 17 Jan 2018

See all articles by David Talbot

David Talbot

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Kira Hessekiel

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Danielle Kehl

New America's Open Technology Institute; Harvard Law School

Date Written: January 2018

Abstract

We collected advertised prices for residential data plans offered by 40 community-owned (typically municipally owned) Internet service providers (ISPs) that offer fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service. We then identified the least-expensive service that meets the federal definition of broadband — at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload — and compared advertised prices to those of private competitors in the same markets. We found that most community-owned FTTH networks charged less and offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months. We were able to make comparisons in 27 communities. We found that in 23 cases, the community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing was lower when averaged over four years. (Using a three year-average changed this fraction to 22 out of 27.) In the other 13 communities, comparisons were not possible, either because the private providers’ website terms of service deterred or prohibited data collection or because no competitor offered service that qualified as broadband. We also made the incidental finding that Comcast offered different prices and terms for the same service in different regions.

Suggested Citation

Talbot, David and Hessekiel, Kira and Kehl, Danielle, Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America (January 2018). Berkman Klein Center Research Publication No. 2018-1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3099626 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3099626

David Talbot (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kira Hessekiel

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Danielle Kehl

New America's Open Technology Institute ( email )

740 15th Street NW
Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Harvard Law School ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

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