Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Should Lawyers Use Municipal Broadband?

Despite the endless advertising and generally consistent service, internet service providers are rarely liked by their customers. Additionally, in some markets, the costs of service can often be prohibitive for many, especially when there is no competition in the market to drive down prices. In recent years, some local governments have stepped up to the plate to provide internet services when competition was lacking.

In markets with a lack of competition, if available, consumers can be even more likely to jump ship from a big ISP to a government owned local ISP, often referred to as municipal broadband. Typically, because municipal broadband will be government subsidized, it can capture significant market share based on its lower costs alone.

Unfair Governmental Advantage

One concern about the municipal broadband services is the unfair advantage government entities have over private service providers. Primarily, being subsidized by government funding, municipal broadband services can easily undercut private providers' prices. This, in turn, decreases competition, which leads to the stifling of innovation.

Should My Firm Be Using Municipal Broadband?

Typically, law firms don't need as much bandwidth as other types of businesses, such as e-commerce, or those that provide online services. And since it is likely to be cheaper, if it is available, you should at least consider switching. However, stability is incredibly important. If your current ISP can't provide stable service, then looking elsewhere is probably a good idea. But be careful and do your research about what your firm actually needs. Notably though, many of the city or government run ISPs are just as fast as the major providers.

Should I Use It at Home?

Depending on your home internet usage, you probably can get away with switching over to municipal broadband. However, if you have multiple concurrent users at home, all streaming content and sucking up bandwidth, you'll want to make sure you aren't (or at least know if you are) sacrificing by switching providers.

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