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Hartford Business Journal Against Government-Owned Broadband

March 10, 2016

iStock_000005643842MediumLast week The Hartford Business Journal in Connecticut posted an editorial calling on state lawmakers to curtail government spending and the expansion of government programs. Unlike many commentators, the Business Journal’s editorial board offers specific solutions for saving money, including reducing spending on the state’s broadband investments and opposing any plan to create a statewide, taxpayer-funded broadband network.

The editorial argued spending on government broadband is “well intentioned,” but “wrong minded.”

The editorial writers’ first argument is that government broadband is duplicative. They note Connecticut “is already a top-ranked state when it comes to high-speed Internet access, so reinventing the wheel seems costly and wasteful.” By referring to Groton, Conn.’s failed government-owned broadband network, which was sold at a more than $30 million loss after it failed to attract consumer interest, the editorial also notes the risk inherent in government broadband. The magazine also says the state government simply doesn’t have the expertise to run a statewide broadband network.

The Business Journal also argued expansion of government broadband is a bad idea since the state is already facing a “fiscal crisis.” (The state is facing a nearly $500 deficit this year and those gaps could expand to $1 billion over the next several years, the Business Journal says.) The editorial asks why the state should spend on broadband – a service that the private sector is well equipped to provide – when “basic services” the “government is supposed to provide to those who need it most” are already “on the cutting board.” The editorial board concludes the “state government is in no position to launch new benefit programs when it can’t control the costs of ones it already offers.”

Instead of spending taxpayer money on broadband, the Business Journal argues, “[T]he state needs to partner with telecom companies, rather than compete with them, to expand access to gigabit-speed Internet …”