Access to the internet has become essential for individuals to engage fully in society. The internet is now necessary for accessing citizenship, public and tax services, to applying for jobs, to news, travel and connection with family and friends.
Unfortunately, access is still not deemed a right in advanced economies. Digital democracy campaigners around the world have identified the lack of public options for internet as a driver of high costs from mostly private monopoly communications providers. Even though access to the internet is approaching the importance of access to water, electricity and the old telephone system, it is not regulated as a utility. Most of the expansion of these large systems happened at a time under either public ownership or public subsidy.
The savings that result from cheap public borrowing (versus private borrowing) makes a large difference in the ability to expand investment enough to reach universal access. Infrastructure investment of this size is one of the easiest arguments for public ownership, especially when most rural areas are currently serviced by a private monopoly charging high rates for low-quality service.
In the UK, discussions of the failures of the 30+ year project of privatization of rail, transit, water and communications has pushed renationalization (or remunicipalization) back in popular discussion. The new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn has even toyed with the idea of renationalization (or at least heavy regulation) of the backbone services for the internet. Corbyn has even released a manifesto outlining what they would like to see in terms of democratizing access to the digital services. This includes access, libraries, supporting cooperatives providing digital services, digitization of public and identification services, and a charter of digital rights.