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Policy Library

State-and Locally-Owned Broadband Infrastructure Can Ensure Faster Internet And Protect Private Online Data

The fastest internet in the United States is in Chattanooga, Tennessee thanks to a local electric utility expanding into broadband service. Cities like Lincoln, Nebraska and cooperatives in rural areas have also pursued options to boost their local economy with shockingly fast Internet services—but to date, states have yet to fully invest in and unleash the potential of locally-owned broadband or fiber. In addition, when states invest in expanding internet access in a way where the state or a locality ends up owning the infrastructure, the state can set the rules for companies that want to use those lines, allowing for better protection of private data and helping ensure that underserved communities are not left behind.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

Minnesota, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Nebraska

In The News

“'In today's world, access to ultra-fast broadband is a key factor when people decide where to live and locate new businesses...,' said [Lincoln Mayor Chris] Beutler, who called it the best piece of news in the city.”
“In 2010, months after EPB had deployed its fiber-optic technology to home networks, the downtown area was still filled with empty factory buildings. In 2016, an incredibly vibrant tech community has filled many of those vacant buildings with open-office spaces for startups.”


  • Internet service providers who want to partner to expand broadband
  • Utilities
  • Businesses and communities looking for faster internet service


None noted
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The State Line


Why is the public sector an effective partner for expanding internet access?
Public infrastructure is uniquely situated to be a cost-effective starting point for expanding internet access. Utilities and other public entities often have in place infrastructure and a customer base to help ensure that faster Internet access can take a similar trajectory to rural electrification. Elsewhere, initial public investment can help spark the private sector growth necessary to facilitate faster broadband expansion.
Will private internet service providers sign on?
Because this proposal encourages state and local entities to search for public-private partnerships that can meet local needs, it will encourage local broadband and fiber expansions on conduit systems, like the city-owned but privately-operated fiber service in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Model Policy

Coming soon