Failures of the telecom industry
In 1996 Congress passed the Telecommunications Act which fundamentally altered the telecom industry. The new law promised competition and innovation; instead we've seen 30 years of industry consolidation where fortunes are made while America's once world-leading communications infrastructure lapses into decay.
“We are in this position as a country because we assumed that the magic of the marketplace would provide competition and provide world-class communications,” she said. “But history has demonstrated that left to their own devices, companies will gouge the rich, leave out the poor, cherry-pick markets and focus solely on their profits. It isn’t evil, it’s just the way things work.”
Susan Crawford, author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in a new Gilded Age
Consider the current state of broadband:
Between 21 and 42 million Americans don’t have any broadband access.
For those with access, at least 50 million only have one broadband provider to choose from.
We pay more for less: in international comparisons Americans pay more for less speed, precisely because there's little to no competition in the American broadband industry.
Our country's communications infrastructure is degrading because the big telecoms are not upgrading the systems we need to prosper in the digital economy.
As an industry, internet service providers (ISP's) consistently rank among the worst industries in America for customer satisfaction (page 8 here); and Milton's dominant incumbent, Comcast, is pretty bad even in that company (page 9 here).
Communities don't need to rely on price-gouging, competition-crushing monopolies to connect to the internet.
By creating their own broadband networks communities are taking matters into their hands, and ensuring access, affordability, and reliability for all.