ArlFiber is a grassroots group of volunteers from Arlington and surrounding localities that is working to create a community internet option for our area and to break down barriers to community broadband throughout Virginia.
ArlFiber believes Arlington County should form a broadband authority and devise a strategic plan to provide a community-owned and -operated fiber optic connection to every property in Arlington that wants it. We believe that the vehicle of a broadband authority (either for Arlington or a regional one with Alexandria) is the best way to provide high-quality broadband service to every business, apartment, and private home that is currently underserved. We suggest that such an authority should use software defined networking to generate a competitive market for provider services and greatly reduce the cost of high-speed internet for all (which, in turn, would greatly reduce the public cost of subsidizing internet service for low-income residents).
ArlFiber was originally formed by members of Our Revolution Arlington (and other interested community members) to explore the creation of a customer- and worker-owned internet service provider cooperative that would lease redundant strands of dark fiber from the ConnectArlington network to provide low-cost, high-speed service to committed affordable housing projects and small businesses in the neighborhoods along Columbia Pike. The pandemic forced us to reevaluate our strategy, and now we have pivoted to calling for a broadband authority for Arlington. We also lobbied members of the Arlington delegation to the VA General Assembly to put forth a bill to dismantle barriers to community broadband in Virginia and recently got the Virginia Democratic Party to adopt a resolution to the same effect.
“Government’s role is to take into account the public good. Just as government decides where highways, roads and streets go to serve the public good through careful planning, design, implementation and maintenance, the same approach should apply to broadband. To elaborate, government plans and designs the nation’s road infrastructure, frequently overseeing the construction of it by private companies and then manages the finished product.”– Andrea Casselton, city of St Paul
“Without oversight or competition, we’ve allowed a handful of players to really control our internet access destiny. It’s particularly cruel right now — about 18% of African American households in America don’t have a connection at home. Many times that’s because of cost, [and] there may be that cable provider there, but they’re a local monopoly and they can charge whatever they like.”– Susan Crawford
“The Internet is one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies. As such, facilitating access to the Internet for all individuals, with as little restriction to online content as possible, should be a priority for all States.”– United Nations