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Burlington’s Bust

February 11, 2013

When you want something done well, on time, and within budget, don’t look to the government to make it happen.  Government-owned networks (GONs) epitomize the flaws and pitfalls associated with most of government “enterprise” ventures.  The Coalition for the New Economy took a closer look at one of these GONs, Burlington Telecom in Vermont.

In his recent paper, Dr. Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr. explained some of the problems Burlington Telecom has experienced.  As Dr. Fuhr notes “many of the problems typical with GONs: a construction plan that is behind schedule (the network is only 85 percent built); high levels of debt ($51 million to be exact); and unmet subscribership goals (despite promises of universal service, the network only serves 4,000 residents).”

Although these examples are very troubling, they don’t hold a candle to the $17 million in government subsidies the system, Burlington Telecom, “borrowed” from the city’s taxpayers.  Unfortunately for Burlington’s taxpayers, the nightmare of this system doesn’t end here.  No different than a bad dream that can’t end fast enough, the shortcomings inherent in GONs continue to plague the localities that misguidedly implemented the network in the first place.

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