In their recent, biased report bashing community broadband, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) alleges that municipal broadband networks are “GON With the Wind,” but it’s really the report’s authors who have run off with reality. Though the report implies that the random subset of 30 municipal networks it features are all government “boondoggles,” TPA only alleges network failure or failure to pay debt in nine cases. After correcting for TPA’s errors, just eight of those 30 networks could be argued as failures.
To counter TPA’s erroneous and misleading claims, the Community Broadband Networks initiative has prepared a response to the report in which we summarize the many shortcomings of the report’s arbitrary approach, correct the authors’ numerous mistakes and omissions, and provide a city-by-city rebuttal of the report’s allegations.
View our response, “Fact Checking the New Taxpayers Protection Alliance Report, GON With the Wind” [pdf], now or download the file below.
“Puzzling” Report Discredits TPA
“The Taxpayer Protection Alliance has returned with another puzzling attempt to discredit municipal broadband networks,” we write in our response to the new report. “They have published a report, GON With the Wind, that mostly affirms that the community networks it picked to study are successful.”
In addition to not even alleging network failure in most cases, TPA’s report struggles with a basic understanding of the telecommunications business, fails to correctly cite and use facts, and relies heavily on a discredited study. In particular, we note the many sloppy errors that the report’s authors make in the section on Chattanooga, Tennessee:
We examined their sourcing for claims made in the Chattanooga case study and found numerous problems. The most obvious is related to the claim on page 15 that Chairman Ajit Pai reversed former Chairman Wheeler’s effort to limit state preemption policies. The 6th Circuit reversed the FCC Order while Chairman Wheeler was still in office, long before Republicans won the 2016 election. Oddly enough, TPA correctly characterized this on page 16.
Furthermore, the report excludes relevant information, including the fact that local governments invest in broadband networks to benefit the community not turn a profit. We explain:
Most community networks are focused on economic development and creating price competition where the community is currently at the mercy of a monopoly. These issues are largely absent from the TPA analysis but are crucial to a proper evaluation of municipal networks.
While the report fails to make a strong case against municipal networks, it does include many facts that show the successes of publicly owned broadband, including take rates that exceed 70 percent and municipal ownership going back decades. “Ironically, while TPA is attempting to discredit municipal networks, its own words consistently affirm that local leaders have made wise decisions with few exceptions,” we say.