Local Advocates Push Back on Municipal Broadband Funding Study

Date: 1 Jun 2017 | posted in: Media Coverage, MuniNetworks | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Morning Consult – June 1, 2017

Written by Mariam Baksh

A University of Pennsylvania study questioning the financial viability of municipal-owned networks for high-speed internet access is drawing criticism from local activists.

The dispute over how best to fund broadband networks in cities has proved a vexing problem for federal decision-makers. And the Penn study casts doubt on some methods favored by local groups. …

“They are using phantom costs,” said Christopher Mitchell in a phone interview with Morning Consult. Mitchell, who runs the broadband project for the Institute for Local Self Reliance, said the life of the fiber is up for debate. More importantly, he added, factoring that sort of depreciation is not appropriate for determining the prospect of the projects going forward.

Mitchell said local elected officials are very aware of the extent of their expenditures in undertaking these projects but also know the danger of doing nothing. He supports low no-interest federal loans for broadband infrastructure to be owned by local cooperatives or governments, in lieu of tax incentives for internet service providers to provide the necessary investments, as some policy makers have proposed.

“I’m deeply wary of more money going to big companies like AT&T, because I think it will all be wasted,” he said. “There’s a tremendous history of the big companies promising to build out and not building out.”

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Nick Stumo-Langer was Communications Manager at ILSR working for all five initiatives. He ran ILSR's Facebook and Twitter profiles and builds relationships with reporters. He is an alumnus of St. Olaf College and animated by the concerns of monopoly power across our economy.