Is it time to consider broadband internet a "public utility?"

Is it time to consider broadband internet a “public utility?”

So I was reading the Axios article on “Pandemic puts money, political muscle behind broadband”

As I was reading this I was thinking about how much the pandemic has accelerated society’s dependence on Broadband internet.

  • People working from home (as in me half the time)
  • School from home (even after the pandemic)
  • Telemedicine (lifeline) I have a family member that uses a Google hub for telemedicine
  • emergency broadcast system via IOT equipment and/or TV streaming

There are many more situations I am sure this community could add to this list. But we know that people use the internet today for more than just Facebook I feel it is time that the internet is considered a public utility.

Now, this is not the first time the proposal has been discussed, but the past year has really accelerated the discussion. There have been some talking points around this issue.

Could there be a “public utility” tier that would block certain websites (ie social media and entertainment)
Would tier’s have speed restrictions.
Basic tier IP live TV comes to people’s TV.

So many splinter questions to discuss. I would appreciate the community’s thoughts on the subject.

I really dislike the idea of the government deciding what does and doesn’t flow over the lines, call it “tiers” or whatever you like. Also don’t think television falls under the public utility umbrella. Negotiating with olde tyme TV networks sounds like a bear of a task I wouldn’t want to befall to my local township.

I’ve always been a fan of the open access network strategy, where the local municipality handles the physical layer of the network and allows ISPs to provide services over the publicly maintained network.

This fosters competition between ISPs while ensuring service availability isn’t subject to questionable profit motives. The government has nothing to do with your service aside from making sure the lines are functioning, and it’s super easy for subscribers to change ISPs, so ISPs should be on their toes in terms of customer service/neutrality violations/etc.

Great case study of a town called Ammon in Idaho where they rolled out this model - Municipal fiber network will let customers switch ISPs in seconds | Ars Technica