Ting did just that on June 26, when it turned on the fiber optic network in Westminster. The city will now enjoy gigabit speeds and more choice when it comes to picking a provider. Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz boasted about how the new fiber network would attract new businesses and residents.


Noss took a more idealistic angle in his statement. “For too long, people and businesses have had no choice, or at best the illusion of choice, as to who provides them with access,” Noss said in a press release. And the federal government has the stats to back up that claim. A better internet means more reliable connections, faster speeds, and lower prices. Experts and politicians seem to agree that we must have more competition if this is actually going to happen.

Anything But Another Monopoly

The past year has been a good year for internet regulation. The FCC passed the strongest open internet rules in history. Comcast’s god awful merger attempt to acquire Time Warner Cable and become an even bigger monster failed. And President Obama laid out a damn sensible plan to increase competition and give Americans more choice over their ISP. He even did so in Cedar Falls, Iowa, yet another city that built its own municipal broadband.


Nevertheless, this is just the beginning. The FCC’s rules still face an assault of litigation from big cable companies that want to keep the status quo. Meanwhile, Charter Communications’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable has received regulatory approval and will soon become the second largest cable company in the country. The election in 2016 also stands to unravel all the hard work done in recent years, especially if some idiot who doesn’t understand how the internet works wins. And inevitably, the fact that individual states have restrictions that make it hard for startup ISPs—from the well-funded Google Fiber to startups like Ting—to enter the market and compete with the monopolies.

For me and my crappy Brooklyn internet, the situation seems a bit hopeless. Sure, Time Warner Cable could turn a corner and start offering me the speeds I’ve been paying for. And maybe, if I’m really lucky, another ISP could edge its way into my neighborhood and give me another option. Neither seems very likely in the very near future.


If America wants a better internet, it’s going to take work. We’re going to have to dig holes and install new equipment. Local governments will need to help startup ISPs compete with big telecom in a fair way. We need to hold companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable accountable for selling shitty service for high prices.

After all, we invented the internet. We should make it better.

This post was originally published September 10, 2015. It has been updated to include news of the FCC approving Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable.


Illustration by Jim Cooke / Photos via Flickr, AP

Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.
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