The Contenders: Municipal fiber providers meeting or beating the incumbent competition

Tools

By Samantha Bookman

municipal fiber opticsIn this installment of The Contenders, we take a look at five standout municipal broadband providers.

Just a few years ago, municipal broadband looked like a long shot to many communities. State or local regulations, legal challenges by established broadband providers, and a shaky economy were among the hurdles that communities had to surmount to bring affordable, high-speed service to businesses and residents.

But times appear to be changing. Legislative victories, like the recent defeat of an anti-municipal broadband bill in Georgia, are keeping the city-operated broadband dream alive for many. And Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) high-profile buildout of a 1 Gbps FTTH network in Kansas City--and now Austin, Texas--is drawing the attention of businesses around the country.

In the midst of this change are a number of municipal broadband projects that have been successfully serving government, businesses, and residents in their respective areas through the past decade.

Reader pollAlthough Google Fiber is one of the most exciting projects out there, it's been excluded from this list--not just because it figured prominently in the first installment of The Contenders, but also so that we could highlight these sometimes-smaller, yet equally notable projects. From muni broadband pioneer Bristol Virginia Utility, to Chattanooga's EPB Fiber, these homegrown efforts are giving incumbents like AT&T (NYSE: T), Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), and others a run for their money.

Take a look at our picks for the top municipal fiber contenders.

(Image source: iStockPhoto)

Our last installment of The Contenders looked at five companies that were challenging the status quo in the wireline segment overall. Take a look at our picks.