Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast or CenturyLink may pay for right-of-way access to deploy cable and fiber in our city, but they are under no obligation to manage those assets for the good of the community. Like all big corporations, these companies strive to maximize profits for shareholders–which means higher prices for the rest of us.
As a result, households, businesses, schools, and government entities in Saint Paul are essentially at the mercy of the Comcast/Centurylink duopoly. With no real competition in the marketplace, there is little incentive for these companies to offer faster speeds or innovate–and everyone suffers, whether it’s the school children with minimal or no internet access at home, job seekers looking to apply for work online, or e-commerce businesses looking to expand operations but unable to afford costly service upgrades.
By contrast, a publicly owned fiber-optic network in Saint Paul would allow us to meet the myriad needs of businesses, residents, and schools, giving the community a direct say over how this crucial piece of infrastructure is managed and operated.