The Nation recently wrote about broadband in New York, specifically troubles that NY has had with Charter Communications failure to keep promises to the state. It led to a discussion of alternative solutions and the RS Fiber cooperative model came up…
Walcott’s preferred option is the latter. For over 80 years, the co-op model has proven an effective way to bring electricity to mostly rural communities. More recently, some have banded together to apply the model to cable and Internet service. One success story is FS Fiber Cooperative, which is bringing fiber-optic service to 10 cities and 17 townships across parts of Minnesota. But the model remains largely untested in urban areas.
Walcott worked with about 50 strikers for three months on a co-op proposal that the group has recently started circulating. Under Walcott’s plan, the telecom co-op could be owned by both workers and customers. Members could elect a board that would appoint managers, including a CEO, and vote on major business decisions, such as to expand the network to new areas.
Without pressure from Wall Street, the co-op could prioritize value over profits, offering faster speeds, reduced cost, and better customer service from workers earning solid wages and benefits. “We’re definitely going to look to build out to all the areas that are underserved,” Walcott said.
The co-op would also commit to net neutrality, promising not to block certain websites or slow their loading speeds.