The FCC may have squashed net neutrality, but Newark mayor Ras Baraka says the city will keep its internet lanes open and equitable.
Unlike most U.S. cities, Newark has its own internet fiber cables running through town, so it can offer its own fast broadband service, called Newark Fiber.
In a partnership with the internet connectivity company Gigxero, Newark Fiber provides streets, parks, and businesses 1,000 and 10,000 megabits per second of data.
It’s essentially super fast internet. You only need 10 megabits to surf the internet and stream reasonably well.
“The power is ours,” Baraka told Mashable. “We have infrastructure that many cities just don’t have. It’s arguably some of the fastest in the country.”
On Dec. 14, the FCC voted 3-2 (along party lines) to kill the Obama-era net neutrality rules. Repealing the rules means that some of the nation’s largest corporations — Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast — can create internet “fast lanes” with speedier service and charge both companies (like Netflix) and consumers (like you) to use them. Net neutrality rules prohibited telecoms from having dominion over how well data flowed from any particular site.
This repeal did not sit well with Baraka, who thought the rules benefited the city’s denizens. “We feel that it is an obstruction to the work we’re doing in Newark,” he said.
Fortunately, he noted, Newark has over 20 miles of city-owned high-speed web infrastructure. And although the city can’t stop powerful telecoms from providing non-neutral internet to customers, Baraka is confident that Newark can compete with them — and perhaps even outcompete them.
“We’re going to build out a competitive service to our residents so they don’t have to deal with [telecoms] at all,” Baraka said. “We can provide it at a cheaper cost. They’ll lose customers.”
When asked how Newark plans to compete with the likes of experienced internet service providers like Verizon, he noted that Newark’s major broadband infrastructure already exists — and already provides internet to the Newark public for free.
So connecting into homes is not too great a leap.
“They can access our fiber for a fee that will be considerably lower than a fee paid monthly for Verizon or others companies,” he said. “We want to be fully competitive with any provider.”
According to the Newark Fiber site, a single home residence will pay less than $50 a month for extremely fast internet. It’s unclear how much getting connected might cost, but the city will come out and provide a quote.
Right now, this high-speed internet is available to many businesses and in public places. But many people’s buildings aren’t yet connected. That’s the next step.
“The only criticism is we haven’t built it out completely,” explained Baraka. “You have better service out of your house than in it right now.”
And if any telecoms want to use Newark’s fiber internet lines to get connectivity to customers, they’ll have to abide by the city’s own net neutrality rules.
“At the end of the day we’re gonna put in our contract that if they’re using our infrastructure they have to allow unfettered access to the internet,” said Baraka.
It seems Verizon and AT&T may have little sway in these New Jersey city limits.
“It is the people of Newark’s fiber,” Baraka said. “It’s theirs.”
Read more: http://mashable.com/