Underline lists about 2,500 targeted cities, Mr. Thompson said. "These 2,500 communities have been neglected by the current government for years in terms of major infrastructure upgrades. They are often not compliant with the government's infrastructure bill." About 83 million Americans have only one option for their home Internet provider, according to a report by the Institute for Local Self-reliance, an antitrust think tank. The big picture: The open-access model is not new, but has recently gained traction, especially as the pandemic forces people to rely more on home Internet.
Chris Mitchell, program director at the Institute of Local Self-reliance, told Axios: "I think we're seeing a different investment mindset emerging from investors investing in telecoms, and Underline is one of them." "More investors looking at Underline and saying, 'No, this is a good, long-term stable investment, I may not get all my money back in five years but in the long run. I will get good returns over a longer period of time.'" The sponsors of Underline include Case's Revolution Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective, FinTech Collective, etc. David Hall, a managing partner of Rest's Rising Fund, said: "The cost structures of some of the big companies and the process of building this fiber are very different." And NCTA, the cable industry group, says its members are working to achieve speeds of 10 gigabits per second.
What next: Biden administration touted community-owned networks as part of high-speed Internet funding in its infrastructure push package. If approved, states would receive $42 billion for Internet projects that they could use to fund open access networks.