One thought on “Community-Owned Broadband: Value Leaders in America

  1. Xenopheb February 13, 2018 / 5:20 am

    KEY FINDINGS (extracted from doc)

    • When considering entry-level broadband service—the least-expensive plan that provides at
    least 25/3 Mbps service—23 out of 27 community-owned FTTH providers we studied charged
    the lowest prices in their community when considering the annual average cost of service over a
    four-year period, taking into account installation and equipment costs and averaging any initial
    teaser rates with later, higher, rates. This is based on data collected in late 2015 and 2016.

    • In these 23 communities, prices for the lowest-cost program that met the current definition of
    broadband were between 2.9 percent and 50 percent less than the lowest-cost such service
    offered by a private provider (or providers) in that market. In the other four cases, a private provider’s
    service cost between 6.9 percent and 30.5 percent less.

    • While community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing is generally clear and unchanging, private
    providers almost always offer initial “teaser” prices and then raise the monthly price sharply.
    This price hike in the communities we studied ranged between $10 (20 percent) and $30 (42.8
    percent) after 12 months, both imposed by Comcast, but in different communities. Only one
    community-owned FTTH provider employed this marketing practice for a data-only plan. This
    exception was a student discount offered by the MINET network in Oregon.

    • Language in the website “terms of service” (TOS) of some private ISPs strongly inhibits research
    on pricing. The TOS for AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable (now owned by Charter), were
    particularly strong in deterring such efforts; as a result, we did not record data from these three

    • While the United States has 40 community networks offering broadband FTTH service (many of
    them serving more than one municipality), we did not make comparisons with private competitors
    in 13 cases, either because the TOS prohibited data collection or because no competing
    broadband service existed in the community network’s home community.

    • We noted that Comcast varied its teaser rates and other pricing details from region to region.
    Our sample size was small; just seven of the communities we studied were served by Comcast.
    Understanding Comcast’s pricing practices and their consumer impacts across the United States
    would require much deeper study.

    • In general we found that making comprehensive pricing comparisons among U.S. Internet service
    plans is extraordinarily difficult. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does
    not disseminate pricing data or track broadband availability by address. Additionally, service
    offerings follow no standard speed tiers or definitions (such as the specifics of video or phone
    service bundles). We focused on comparing entry-level broadband plans in part because of
    these complexities.

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