In late December, the city of Austin announced it would shut down its own internet service to protest a $1.4 billion corporate-backed plan to expand its city’s gigabit broadband network to include up to 60,000 homes.
In a move that drew condemnation from residents, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to shut down the service, which serves about 3 million people in the city.
In Austin, the plan would have been one of the most ambitious of a number of city projects aimed at speeding up internet service in Austin.
The city has previously pledged to build gigabit networks in other cities in the US.
On January 10, QLink announced it had been forced to suspend operations because of the city’s decision to shut it down.
The company said the decision was due to an “urgent change in the financial condition” of its business model and that it was not in a position to continue as an independent provider of internet services.
“Austin is the first US city to have a public shutdown of an internet service provider,” QLink said in a statement to ABC News.
But on January 15, the company posted a blog post announcing that it would be shutting down for good, citing “the need to focus our resources on the growth of our business model.”
“QLink has made significant investments in the Austin region and we will continue to invest in Austin and the surrounding areas,” the post said.
“We are working with our customers and city staff to plan for a viable future for QLink.”
Austin’s city council has also voted several times to cut city spending.
Last year, it voted to shuttered its entire library, and last month it passed a bill that eliminated a $10,000 tax incentive that had been handed out to the city in the hope that it could spur the creation of new businesses in the area.
Austin is one of only a handful of US cities to have shut down their own internet services in response to a major public health crisis.
Earlier this year, a California man died after consuming a tainted milk from a local dairy, which had been tainted by a pesticide called chlorpyrifos.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the pesticide, said it is unlikely the pesticide was responsible.
A federal judge in San Diego last month ordered a temporary injunction to protect residents of the state from exposure to chlorpyrs, which can be deadly for people exposed to high doses.
This is the third time in as many months that Austin has shut down a city internet service.
In April, the Texas Capitol was shut down after the city declared a state of emergency.
The next day, a similar state of shutdown was declared in San Antonio after a fire destroyed a city office building and the city announced it was moving ahead with a plan to build an internet connection to replace it.
The Austin City Hall building was also evacuated after a toxic leak that damaged a water supply line.
The situation escalated when a fire broke out at a municipal office building in November, leading to a series of deadly blazes and fires.
While Austin’s internet shutdown has generated widespread concern in the media, some experts say it could also be a good thing for the city if it serves as a model for other cities looking to scale up their internet infrastructure.
“[Austin] is an example of a city that has actually been able to pull this off without having a huge infrastructure investment,” said Kevin Gartland, the founder and CEO of Austin Internet Ventures.
Gartland also said the city could learn a lot from other cities that have experienced the economic boom that comes with a major infrastructure investment.
“There’s going to be some lessons learned,” he said.
Follow Michael Smerconish on Twitter: @michaelmersconish