Key Points

The Community Networks Initiative of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance provides information to empower communities in making decisions around 21st-century connectivity. These pages explore the key issues concerning community networks, from the technology to the economy.


The high up-front capital costs of building a new network can discourage new Internet service providers. And often one or two companies have already captured a substantial portion of the market. Learn more about competition and monopoly.

Economic Development

When a community invests in a fiber network, it often does so because it hopes to reap economic benefits. This page explores the positive relationship between community networks and economic development. Discover economic development.


We are at a major turning point in telecommunications technology. Fiber-to-the-Home networks are now being built throughout the world, offering amazing speeds. These are the networks in which communities should invest. Find more about fiber-optics.

Institutional Network

Community anchor institutions, such as public libraries and schools, are among the first places people go to access the Internet when they cannot at home. We detail the benefits of local governments connecting their own community anchor institutions with self-provisioned networks. Look into “institutional networks” or "I-Nets.”

Level Playing Field

Cable and telephone companies have a history of claiming that they just want to "level the playing field" when they introduce legislation that effectively prevents publicly owned networks. See how the playing field already tilts in their favor.

Open Access

Publicly owned, open access networks can create a vibrant and innovative market for telecommunications services. Municipalities build the physical infrastructure and independent Internet service providers operate in a competitive market using that same physical network. Understand different models of open access.

Public Accountability

Networks are essential infrastructure. Decisions about how to run the network and who can access the network affect the entire community. The question is who makes these decisions? Read more on public accountability.


What makes a network a success or a failure? There is no easy metric - but we can demonstrate tremendously successful community networks across a variety of measures, from take-rates to job creation to subscriber satisfaction. Debunk myths about community networks.


Wireless offers great promise. Over the past decade, wireless technologies have improved rapidly. They promise speed and mobility. Learn about wireless solutions.