Butler, Arthur A., Paisner, Joel R. Deciding Whether to Build a Municipal Broadband Network, Choosing the Best Business Plan and Entity” http://www.mrsc.org/Subjects/telecomm/LSIProgramMaterials.pdf. Link Accessed: 2004-02-22.

Keywords: municipal network, broadband, legislation


This paper was drafted for the Municipal Broadband Conference of December, 2002 by the Seattle Washington law firm AterWynne, (specializing in Business, Litigation, and Regulated Industries.) This work addresses issues related to building municipal broadband networks and provides case studies of court decisions, state and federal legislation that affect municipal broadband networks.

AterWynne advocates broadband delivery via publicly owned electric utilities for the following reasons;

  • The history of providing services to under served areas and willingness serve where others won’t or can’t
  • Provides competition and helps in the communities economic development
  • Company already has existing experience in plant maintenance, operations, and customer service
  • Already has access to poles and other right of way facilities
  • Established community trust
  • Municipal Challenges:

  • Technology selection: Will it be a high bandwidth FTTH network, dark fiber condominium network, or a regional wholesale network?
  • Can a municipal network handle the challenges of customer relations and marketing?
  • How will the local incumbent telephone company react?
  • Will municipalities have to conform to a level playing field which effectively makes it harder if not impossible for them to compete with the local providers?
  • Are the public electric utilities the best entity to provide the high speed internet access?
  • Potential benefits:

  • Economic development: High bandwidth networks attract new businesses
  • Community Preservation: Keeps the present businesses from moving away due to lack of growth opportunities
  • Essential Communication services: Provides better communication to educational facilities, hospitals, and public safety
  • Contributed by Adam Collet - Accounting & Information Systems, Virginia Tech