There’s never been a better time to create a municipal broadband network. The repeal of net neutrality threatens to raise costs for consumers and content creators.

A middle school student in Rochester could one day invent the next Facebook. That child cannot achieve this dream for herself and our community without access to a low-cost internet that will treat her new website the same as Facebook.

Monroe County and the City of Rochester have tons of dark fiber. A feasibility study estimated that it would cost $70 million to hardwire every home the city. A public-private partnership could offer broadband service free to households and low-cost to businesses.

“Rochester has the infrastructure and the innovation capacity to wire every home and business with free and low-cost fiber internet,” Rochester for All Chairperson Rachel Barnhart said. “We would be on the map for start-ups, creating jobs. We would also help our children succeed.”

A recent Brookings Institution study found that poor areas in Rochester have low-adoption rates of broadband internet. The RCSD estimates half of its students don’t have broadband internet at home. Spectrum’s low-cost internet plan, endorsed by Mayor Lovely Warren, has entry barriers and has not been shown to increase adoption rates.

Rochester for All reminds elected officials to put citizens before campaign donations. This year, Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent, has made the following contributions:

Monroe County Democratic Committee – $5,000

Mayor Lovely Warren – $2,500

Assemblyman Joe Morelle – $2,200

State Senator Joe Robach – $1,000

State Senator Rich Funke – $1,000

“The FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality affects everyone. President Trump is looking out for corporations, not people. This was a big disappointment,” Barnhart said. “But there are things we can do to make sure Rochesterians have choices that won’t break the bank and will ensure access and opportunity for all.”

  1. Has there been any corporate or nonprofit interest in pursuing a municipal broadband network? If the infrastructure is there, it does seem like a no brainer…

    • So far, our local politicians have been completely uninterested. Without them, it can’t happen. I could see a private company wanting to get involved, but something like this would need public funding. – Rachel

  2. Am wondering how many homes and businesses are in the city… What if EVERYONE paid monthly for the first year or 2, what they paid to their current Internet company? Or HALF? ONLY those who WERE paying for it, not those who couldn’t afford Internet. While it wouldn’t cover all the costs, it would make a dent. I’d be happy to do that, to get faster and better internet service, which would eventually become free to use.

  3. Jed R Salisbury says:

    How about getting greenlight internet in Rochester ? It’s in some places but not in others. I have been inquiring for years.

    • This is a tough one, because Greenlight needs a critical mass of subscribers before it moves into an area. In poorer neighborhoods, this is likely a nonstarter. Greenlight might be a great partner for municipal broadband. – Rachel

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