August 28, 2015
Do government-owned broadband network (GON) supporters want to end the digital divide or is their mission broader than that? According to Crosscut, a “reader-supported, independent, non-profit electronic journal” that “strives to provide our readers with the facts and analysis they need to intelligently participate in civic discourse on politics, culture and technology,” for some GON supporters’, “the core purpose isn’t necessarily to expand Internet access, or make it cheaper … It’s to diminish the influence of powerful, profit-oriented interests in tech.”
Given the fact that private broadband providers have invested more than $1.4 trillion in the U.S. economy over the last 20 years and have provided at least 6.3 million new jobs, that mission is astonishing, but, according to Crosscut, it’s what GON supporters in Seattle want.
As a reminder: earlier this summer we reported city officials in Seattle, Wash. are again considering whether to build a municipal network in their city. A group called Upgrade Seattle and City Council Member Kshama Sawant are leading the effort.
In our report back in June, we noted Sawant had urged residents to take “action” against private broadband providers. With Crosscut’s reporting, we now know exactly what Sawant meant … and that her mission extends not only to private broadband providers, but to some of the nation’s largest tech companies too. Indeed, Crosscut reported Sawant has called for major Silicon Valley companies to be put “into public ownership under democratic workers’ control to be run for public good, not private profit.”
Crosscut says, for Sawant, that effort starts by pushing private broadband providers out of the market by building a “a city-owned broadband Internet utility.”
How would consumers’ fare under Sawant’s plan? They’d only have one choice – the government one.
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