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Municipal Broadband: Many Promises, More Failures

May 29, 2014

Municipal broadband network supporters love to argue that taxpayer-funded networks are better for consumers because they lower prices and improve service. CNE has deconstructed these claims before (specifically, see CNE’s blog post here on the price issue), but at RealClearPolitics today two gentlemen from the watchdog group the American Consumer Institute do it.

Zack Christenson and Steve Pociask argue that, while municipal networks “come with the promise of future savings, that promise has yet to pan out.” In fact, the two say, “Horror stories like those in Mooresville, N.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and (more recently) Orlando, Fla. (where just 27 people were found to be using the system each day after 16 months) offer a cautionary tale about the outcomes of government-run Internet.”

The two suggest in their opening and final paragraphs that if government is allowed to take over broadband service, lines for the Internet could become like lines at the DMV.

The main purpose of Christenson and Pociask’s article is to oppose a new policy announced by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler last week that would preempt states laws that require municipal broadband networks to compete on the same playing field private networks do. (For more on the FCC’s new policy, see our blog post from yesterday.)

The two argue the new policy is likely to be challenged in court on constitutional grounds and will put taxpayers at risk. The headline of their article suggests the FCC rethink its position.

CNE couldn’t agree more.