December 14, 2017
Does Alabama need more government-funded broadband? Johnny Kampis, a resident of Cullman Ala., says no.
In a column at the YellowHammerNews website, Kampis says, “Alabama needs to be better prepared for a future that will require more high-speed internet,” but argues advancement should be “done the smart way – with less taxpayer money and more reliance on the private sector.”
Huntville, Ala. Mayor Tommy Battle’s call for improved broadband access prompted Kampis’ column. As Kampis notes, Battle is familiar with municipal broadband. Huntsville has agreed to subsidize Google Fiber by allowing the company to lease dark fiber from the city utility system. Additionally, the city will use $57 million in revenues from electricity ratepayers to upgrade the network that Google Fiber will use. Kampis notes, “The utility hopes to recover most of those costs with leases to providers like Google Fiber, although it hasn’t yet announced any other leasees or been forthcoming with financial details on the Google Fiber deal.”
According to Kampis the deal with Google Fiber is unnecessary. Madison County residents already “enjoy a variety of choices” when it comes to how they connect to the Internet. Private providers also are expanding service offerings throughout the state, Kampis notes. Mediacom, AT&T, and WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone all currently offer gigabit speeds to some residents, or plan to offer the service soon. Comcast “will offer speeds up to 10 gigabits per second to Huntsville residents this year.”
The average download speed in Alabama is 27.5 megabits per second. In Madison County, 80 percent of residents can access speeds up to 100 mbps if they want them.
That’s why Kampis concludes, “[T]he money being thrown at publicly owned internet projects would be better suited as subsidies for a free market searching for solutions to solve that rural broadband gap.”
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