The following letter to the editor from an ArlFiber Collective member was recently published by the Sun Gazette (online – Insidenova):

https://www.insidenova.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/letter-arlington-needs-to-go-all-in-providing-internet-service/article_d8bffc46-cb8a-11ea-ace8-d35c148461b0.html

Letter: Arlington needs to go all in providing Internet service

  • SUN GAZETTE NEWSPAPERS
  • Jul 22, 2020

Editor: The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the many perils and injustices created by the digital divide in the U.S. 

This divide is largely attributable to our reliance on highly monopolized markets to provide Internet access based solely on the consideration of profits and shareholder returns. We need a public option that will at once affirm the principle that the Internet is a vital utility worthy of public investment and control while creating actual competition and innovation to bring affordable high-speed Internet to all residents and businesses currently unserved or underserved by the incumbent telecommunications corporations operating here in Arlington.

In the early 2010s, the Arlington County government itself pursued a public option for its own buildings when it broke with Comcast in favor of building the ConnectArlington dark-fiber network. Instead of paying Comcast $500,000 to provide bare-bones service to low-income families for at least the next year – as has been announced by the county government – we should leverage the existing public network to do it.

Under the provisions of the Virginia Wireless Service Authority Act, the Arlington government can form a broadband authority and convert the existing network into an open-access network that connects to all buildings and residences in the county. 

An Arlington broadband authority could lay the fiber to the premises and light it, and use software-defined networks to have third-party ISPs compete to provide service. This model was pioneered in Ammon, Idaho, and has been highly successful.

To learn more, see the Website at https://arlfiber.org/arlington-broadband-authority/.

Tim Dempsey, Arlington

Dempsey is a member of the ArlFiber collective.

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