One early indicator of such “public” value is the fact that RUC’s fiber network now connects Reedsurg’s schools with more bandwidth than they had before, and at a lower price. Before the network was available, schools were paying $650-$750 a month for T-1 service, which delivers only 1.5 Mbps of capacity. Today, RUC provides 100 Mbps links between school buildings at a cost below $500 per month.
Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative with the New Rules Project of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He has worked as a server administrator, web geek, and in automated quality assurance for software. He earned a Master's degree in Public Policy from the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Macalester College.
Mitchell has spoken at conferences across the United States on the subject of publicly owned broadband, occasionally to directly debate opponents of public ownership. He has been published in a number of online magazines as well as traditional printed publications such as NATOA Journal, Municipal Advocate, and Broadband Properties.
On a day-to-day basis, Mitchell runs a website dedicated to community broadband issues, MuniNetworks.org. In May, 2010, he published a comprehensive report on publicly owned broadband networks titled “Breaking the Broadband Monopoly: How Communities Are Building the Networks They Need.”
The New Rules Project seeks to change the rules that undermine the strength of local economies and the long-term vitality of communities. We make the rules and the rules make us. Information networks are essential infrastructure for communities and should be managed for the benefit of the community.
He is also a sports photographer, shooting regularly for Minnesota’s Golden Gophers, and an avid rock climber. In the future, he plans to continue doing policy work when it does not conflict with the World Cup – men or women.
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