A new non-profit named LakelandFiberNOW is urging Lakelanders and its policymakers to invest in infrastructure by building a high-speed fiber network. This group, founded by local tech leaders, say they see a need for better connectivity throughout the Lakeland area. They are claiming that private companies have not invested in maintaining the critical infrastructure required for high-speed internet causing reliability issues and other problems. The group also says that pricing in Lakeland is higher than other municipal areas creating a “brain drain” in the region.
Municipal Fiber Networks are not new- many other communities across the country have successfully built their own networks. But the high upfront costs can turn policymakers away from building them. Also, the initial outlay can take years before the entire community is connected. The length of time required and the costs make some weary. Another problem is legislation- since 2012, under pressure from ISP lobbying firms, Florida lawmakers passed laws restricting the buildout of these networks. LakelandFiberNOW states that these are simply impediments to the infrastructure and not brick walls.