The gigabit bug proved contagious in 2014.
In February, Google invited 34 cities in nine major urban areas to explore joining the ranks of its first set of fiberhoods. Selected from 2010’s initial 1,000 Google Fiber applicants, not all cities will likely end up with fiber, pending the outcome of talks exploring network feasibility. April saw AT&T grab headlines with its own ambitious gigabit plans to explore networks in 100 U.S. cities, dependent also on amenable city policies and available infrastructure. Even Time-Warner Cable, focused on an impending merger with cable giant Comcast, announced in July plans to upgrade Internet speeds in six major markets. Overlap is inevitable, setting the stage for competition among service providers, which can only benefit consumers.
Meanwhile, other cities fought state restrictions on municipally owned networks, arguing that their broadband needs are ignored by private-sector providers. Muni broadband successes Wilson, N.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn., petitioned the FCC in July to remove restrictions on expanding existing networks and developing new ones. While FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler suggested his support for city-run networks in cities that want them, the agency has yet to take official action. A flurry of legislative attempts this year promises continued friction on the issue in 2015.
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