Affordable, reliable internet is a basic requirement of modern life. High costs and spotty service are not only preventing growth and opportunity in Superior, but limiting access for all of our citizens.
Since the inception of the internet, we have relied on private corporations to connect us to work, the market, education and entertainment. But as we emerge from a global pandemic and our economy begins to grow again, we cannot ignore the fact that private internet companies are simply unwilling or unable to meet the demands of a changing world. When we need them most, they are failing us. We can do better.
Connect Superior is our response to slow, frustrating, and expensive internet. The project is simple: The City of Superior will construct and maintain a fiber optic network, the very fastest and longest lasting technology, and connect every home and business in Superior that wants access.
But that’s where government involvement ends. We will open this network to private internet providers which will offer you options and compete for your business.
If you don’t like your service or the price, simply push a button and switch. No contracts, no waiting on hold for customer service: just reliable, affordable internet instantly.
This “open access” model has already improved speeds and lowered costs in cities across the country because this is what cities do best. We build infrastructure like streets and sidewalks and allow everyone to use them. Imagine if we required every private company to build their own roads and bridges and pass those costs on to you. It sounds absurd but it's exactly how the large internet monopolies operate.
Major internet companies like Charter will argue that this project is too expensive, but they will decline to mention that their service already costs much more. Imagine the audacity of a company that increased your internet costs during a pandemic saying that a more affordable option costs too much. Our most expensive projections put Connect Superior more than $20 a month less than basic broadband service from Charter and provide much higher speeds. It’s also voluntary and all costs are paid by users, not taxpayers.
The corporations will also argue that we should be partnering with them rather than competing. This just shows how desperate they are to manipulate you. Connect Superior does not compete with the free market. Connect Superior is the free market. We will welcome Charter and every other provider on our network. We will only manage the connection. They claim they provide high quality service. Let them prove it against real competition.
Public infrastructure serves the people. If the network is vital to modern life, then the people should own it the same way we own our roads, our parks and our Packers. A private corporation shouldn’t dictate whether you can work from home, take classes online, operate your business, or see your family.
The corporations say they provide great service already. They say we should do nothing. Do you agree? I don’t. It’s time we stopped living in the past and tolerating an obsolete and broken system. We can provide better internet access to our citizens and we can do it for less money than the internet giants. I’m sure those corporations will be upset, but they had their chance.
Jim Paine is the mayor of Superior.