Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"How Chattanooga, Bristol, and Lafayette Built the Best Broadband in America"

Christopher Mitchell has published "How Chattanooga, Bristol, and Lafayette Built the Best Broadband in America," an in-depth case study and analysis of how the three named cities have, well, built the best broadband in America. It is indeed in-depth; weighing in at 65 pages the study digs into the history, the current status—with an emphasis on unique features of the networks—and the benefits that each community-owned network has developed. There's a little something for every interest in the studies. If you want to know how to get a network started there are three successful models to review. The types of opposition and local preparations are discussed at length. Widely different business plans are revealed. Each network's unique services and approaches are highlighted.

This is exactly the sort of study of community-owned broadband success stories that has long been needed. A structured set of case studies both gets at the common features of successful municipal networks share and the very real differences between local circumstances and strategies. Both the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Mitchell's home base, and the Benton Foundation, who supported the work financially are deserving of thanks.

Lafayette readers of this blog will be most interested in how the study deals with LUS Fiber. Mitchell does a good job—and put in the time necessary to get a good handle on the area's unique features. He visited all the cities covered and hung out in Lafayette, interviewing the principals and rooting around in local privately held "archives." (By which I mean folk's old card board boxes and saved documents.) I reviewed an earlier draft and think he's done an excellent job. You can't do better for a succinct catch-up on the history and development of LUS Fiber.

Recommended without reservation.  

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