According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, Americans are sick and tired of paying high prices for internet, getting poor service and even poorer customer service.
In response to ongoing problems with internet service providers, they support local governments’ efforts to solve those ongoing problems by building municipal internet networks.
Pew surveyed more than 4,000 people and learned that an overwhelming 70% of respondents believe local governments should be allowed to build out their own high-speed municipal networks if existing internet service providers are “too expensive or not good enough.”
Seventy percent? Incredible. It’s almost impossible to get 70% of any group to agree on anything.
Unfortunately, onerous state regulations make it almost impossible for cities to build municipal networks in more than 20 states. As we’ve reported before, cable companies have caused this problem by contributing heavily to state legislators who, in turn, have voted to ban muni networks that might provide the cable giants with a little unwanted competition. It’s one of those “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situations. The only problem is that politicians and cable companies are doing all the scratching while consumers are the ones left with the itch.
Consumers generally love muni networks as much as cable companies hate them.
As TheVerge.com reports, “The mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, credits his city’s municipal broadband network, which provides multi-gigabit speeds, with revitalizing the area.”
As long as politicians are accepting political donations and cable companies are flush with cash, you can’t expect these laws to be repealed in the near future. That leaves consumes and cities caught smack dab in the middle of a power struggle.
“The Federal Communications Commission tried to use its power in 2015 to let municipalities ignore laws banning local broadband and build networks anyway,” TheVerge.com said, “but states fought back and eventually won.”
It’s tough to find any issue that the left and right agree on these days. But the Pew study notes that support for muni broadband networks seems to be one of those rare bipartisan issues. Some Democrats support it, some Republicans support it, but too many from both parties would rather rake in those generous cable company political donations. So even when legislation is proposed, it is defeated.
Here are a couple other mind boggling statistics from the Pew survey:
Although the Pew survey found overwhelming support for muni broadband networks, broadband subsidies for low-income Americans did not fare as well. Just 44% of Americans support those subsidies while an even larger percentage believes internet service “is affordable enough” and that people should be able to pay for it.
Impossible. It can’t be true. We don’t believe it.
Because we’ve never met anyone — rich, poor, or somewhere in between — who thinks their internet bill isn’t too high.
Of course, it’s true that we have not conducted an official survey of 4,000 people as Pew did, but a quick scan of our readers’ comments should be enough to convince almost anyone that Americans believe in three things — mom, apple pie, and that their internet bills are too high.