We are a group Syracuse residents who originally formed the Broadcast Media Review Group—led by long-time community activist, John Oldfield—to urge and help the city in the franchise renewal process with the incumbent cable service provider, Time Warner Cable (TWC). The existing agreement, rolled over for nearly 30 years, is quite outdated in light of new services, technology, and social changes that have taken effect.
After much investigation and review, we learned that federal law has, in recent decades, systematically stripped away most local authority over the cable system. Given that, and considering TWC's poor responsiveness and lack of follow through on commitments to the community, we concluded we would have no leverage to negotiate the changes we believe are fair and important and in the public interest.
We then realized the one way to secure local control of the cable system and provide a vast amount of additional benefits to the community is to establish a community-owned broadband utility. Community ownership not only guarantees community control of cable service prices, options, and infrastructure investment choices; it can also redirect the high profits the cable system generates to lower prices and vastly increase community access and local programming development.
The Syracuse Community Broadband Initiative will work to educate the community and city government on the benefits of community-owned broadband, types of incorporation (e.g., a non-profit 501(c)(3) or non-profit 501(c)(12) Service Utility Cooperative), and to bring together technical and business expertise to prepare an actionable project plan to establish a community-owned broadband utility. Our website, http://syracusebroadband.org, will provide news, announcements, resources, and collaboration tools to organize the community and make the initiative a success.