Update: On Feb. 26, the Federal Communications Commission made some historic rulings. It decided to regulate the Internet like a utility and voted to allow two cities, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, to expand their broadband services. That leaves many more cities fighting for the same rights.

Could you live without the Internet? If you’re reading this, the answer is probably not.

Today, a high-speed connection is as necessary as electricity. It’s a vital part of economic growth in America because businesses need it to run, well, business.

Reveal hears from residents of two towns at the heart of a nationwide battle over access to fast and reliable Internet. It’s the telecom giants versus municipalities that want control over their community networks.

Reporter Allan Holmes of The Center for Public Integrity investigates the influence of the telecommunications industry. He’s been reporting on the fight over municipal broadband for the last year.

DIG DEEPER

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.