September 21, 2016
As construction on Huntsville, Ala.’s municipal broadband network began last week, Alabama State Senators Clay Scofield and Rodger Smitherman continued their efforts to explain that the best way to enhance high-speed internet access is “to work with private sector internet service providers, not against them.”
In their latest column on this issue, the senators used a report and poll by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) to prove their point. (The senators’ column ran at AL.Com and YellowHammer News, which noted there are currently 131 internet providers in Alabama.) They also argued local experts, including Auburn University’s T. Randolph Beard, oppose government-run broadband networks.
As the Coalition for the New Economy also has noted, TPA found guaranteeing access to high-speed internet ranked dead last when it came to the issues that voters want elected officials to prioritize. TPA also found that only 11 percent of voters thought the government would do a better job of providing internet than the private sector and just 23 percent believe their local government should take on debt in order to provide internet directly to consumers. TPA’s study, the senators noted, found “cities have suffered millions in taxpayer losses when they’ve failed to sell fast, reliable internet service directly to consumers.”
Huntsville is certainly heavily invested in its municipal network. According to Watchdog.org, “Huntsville Utilities anticipates spending about $57 million to connect the city with gigabit-capable fiber” and “the project will be paid for using budgeted funds and borrowed money.”
Senators Scofield and Smitherman concluded their column with a pledge. They said, “For the sake of local and state taxpayers and the overall health of our economy, we will continue to voice our concerns when it comes to government-owned broadband.”
Taxpayers will definitely appreciate their efforts.
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