February 13, 2017
In the piece, Williams says that “while internet service providers (ISPs) have invested more than $1.5 trillion in private funds in building broadband infrastructure over the last two decades, Google Fiber has built its small network on taxpayer subsidies and special interest favors.” For example, Huntsville, Ala. is building a network that Google Fiber will lease. Taxpayers will spend $57 million to provide Google Fiber with that infrastructure. In Provo, Utah Google Fiber got its hands on a $40 million broadband system by purchasing it from the city for just $1.
Lawmakers in Kansas City handed out free office space, free power, and free “related services” to the technology giant. San Antonio officials have leased park space—on which other companies cannot build—to Google Fiber at below market rates. Additionally, according to Williams, “residents weren’t given the opportunity to discuss the deal in public hearings.” The company’s contractors damaged some of the property that Google Fiber has leased and have so far not paid for repairs.
Google Fiber also arranged sweetheart deals in Charlotte, N.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn. According to Williams, in Charlotte residents “already are upset about disruptions and damage attributed to construction” and also are concerned that the company “is building in wealthier neighborhoods first, a prospect that, if true, could expand the city’s digital divide.”
Williams notes that Google Fiber’s parent company, Alphabet, is one of the most wealthy brands in the world. Despite that, and despite its generous taxpayer subsidies, Google Fiber is struggling financially and is cutting staff as a result.
Williams concludes, “Citizens are forking over too much and getting too little in return. Google Fiber is sinking and now it’s time for taxpayers to abandon ship.”
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