Isaac Protiva wanted to know who was behind the “Stop City-Funded Internet” campaign that was pouring a fortune into scuttling the plan to build a fast, efficient, low-cost city network in his hometown of West Plains, Missouri; after a lot of digging, he discovered that (naturally), the “collection of fiscally conservative Missourians” who were nominally behind the site was actually the local cable-monopoly, Fidelity Communications, who came clean (but never apologized).

Protiva figured it out because DM Web Dev Group, Fidelity’s Scottsdale, Arizona ad agency littered the stopcityfundedinternet.com site with filenames like “Fidelity_SCFI_Website_V2.jpg.”

After Protiva outed Fidelity, they published a letter admitting to being behind the astroturf campaign, and then whined that the citizens of West Plains weren’t treating the company fairly and expressed their hurt bewilderment that the townspeople might want to provide their own network rather than rely on the kind of cable monopolist who creates deceptive websites to interfere in town politics.

Municipal broadband networks are cheaper, faster and more reliable than the commercial ones provided by telco/cable duopolies, and that’s why 750 US communities now provide their own municipal networks.

In the case of West Plains, however, the ISP was up against city administrator Tom Stehn, who appears to have played things by the book and was savvy enough to have enlisted congressional support for his city’s broadband plans. Stehn is also an engineer, which may explain why the municipal network has not run into some of the same problems similar projects in other cities across the nation have encountered.

Back in December 2015, the city decided to build its own municipal fiber network after a survey of local businesses revealed that they were unhappy at the quality and cost of their internet connections. Some firms were paying three times the amount for similar connectivity available in nearby cities.

Of course a mystery website attacking city-run broadband was run by an ISP. Of course [Kieren McCarthy/The Register]