by Max Brantley
Although there are several national companies, local markets tend to be dominated by just one or two main providers.
"We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight."
Two-thirds get their broadband via their television cables, she says, because the DSL (digital subscriber line) service provided by phone companies over copper lines can't compete with cable speeds, while wireless and satellite services are subject to low usage caps.
About 150 cities across the US have internet access supplied by public utility companies. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, electricity company EPB became an internet service provider four years ago. After expanding its existing fibre network which it used to control the grid, it now offers a one gigabit service for $70 a month.
...In Lafayette, Louisiana, $35 can get you 15Mbps from the municipal internet service. But only one in 10 US cities have public electricity utilities and 19 states have discouraged or banned communities from building these networks, says Mitchell.