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Why Buffalo should provide speedy internet service for all

Pop-ups to the people

I have lived in the Buffalo area all my life. Today the city is entering a renaissance. I see the rapid changes every day from my neighborhood in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. As the city begins to grow and thrive, the Internet service on which we all depend will need to keep pace. When I heard about the success of municipal Internet services in other areas of the country, I knew we could achieve the same goal in Buffalo, bringing the full power of the Web to everyone in our city.

What is municipal Internet? It is a service that provides you with an Internet connection, but instead of being provided by a profit-driven company, it is provided by the local government. Water supply, public schools, power supply, and garbage collection are examples of municipal services offered in cities across the country.

Time Warner Cable currently has a monopoly on broadband Internet in this area, while Verizon provides DSL Internet (which is far slower), and many people living here are unhappy about that. Without competition, Time Warner has little incentive for providing better service.

To see why municipal Internet is a better alternative, take a look at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga’s municipal Internet now delivers the fastest Internet in the Western hemisphere, providing their customers with speeds of 1,000 Mbps (megabits per second). For perspective, the average home in the United States gets about 5 Mbps.

Municipal Internet would provide Buffalo residents with faster, more reliable Internet speeds, at a lower cost. It would help stimulate Buffalo’s economy, improve the quality of life for our residents, provide service to some people who might not currently have access to the Internet, help attract people from other cities, promote healthy competition between other Internet providers, and support our booming medical campus, where scientists and researchers rely on fast Internet connections.

That’s why I created Free the Web, an online forum for those who support the idea of municipal Internet. It is at the center of a movement to organize the people of our city and take our message to our local officials: We want a municipal broadband Internet service in Buffalo.

Soon after I started Free the Web, I began to receive hundreds of comments and emails from people all over the city, and even from other states, offering encouragement and expressing their support. Many have volunteered to help make this happen, and we can make it happen.

Democracy is only as strong as the will of the people. Citizens who are organized and informed will elect strong leaders who will do what is in the best interest of the people they represent. That’s the strategy we need to take in facing the challenges and realizing the promise of our city and our nation. It begins when we inform, inspire, and organize the people around us, and especially when we go out and vote.

Free the Web will help mobilize people so that together we can make a more concentrated and informed effort to achieve our goal. When you join our site, we will send you timely updates with small things you can do to make this happen:

• When election time rolls around, we will email you a list of local political candidates, indicating whether or not they support municipal Internet. Take the list when you go out to vote.

• When our city government begins official discussions about this issue, we will notify you of council meetings you can attend to make your voice heard.

• We are working with local officials to create a plan of action, an easy-to-understand outline of the steps we need to take. You can take those steps with us.

• We will provide you with names and contact information for local officials who can help bring municipal Internet to Buffalo, so you can let them know where you stand and hold them to their promises to take action to bring municipal Internet to Buffalo.

If you want Buffalo to have a world-class Internet connection to be proud of, you can help make it possible. Sign up for Free the Web at Together we can bring a higher quality of living to our community.

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