In the News: Christopher Mitchell
October 17, 2017
Media Outlet: Michigan Radio
Michigan state representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), introduced a bill into the state legislature that would cut off all possible funding (federal, state, and local) that communities could invest in bettering their connectivity. This revelation set of a firestorm of publicity against the bill and Virginia Gordan of Michigan Radio covered the story for the NPR affiliate.
Gordan spoke with ILSR’s director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative Christopher Mitchell to talk about the negative impacts this bill would have Michigan residents’ connectivity and to give national context for the bill.
Here’s Christopher’s contribution:
Critics of the bill say it would harm Michigan communities with inadequate internet access and hurt their economic development.
According to Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute of Local Self Reliance, the bill would leave the businesses in underserved communities less competitive, hurt their children’s education, and result in declining property values.
Mitchell said the bill is about private providers’ fear of broadband competition and of local communities’ providing faster and more reliable service at the same or lower prices.
“If they face any competition, then they’re either going to have to lose those customers or invest significantly to keep them. So the big companies want to prevent that,” said Mitchell. “The other concern, even in areas where they don’t have customers, is the threat of a good example.”
Hoitenga said she expects the bill to be substantially amended after hearings take place next week before the House Communications and Technology Committee, which she chairs. She said her goal is to improve internet access throughout Michigan, and she introduced this bill to spark a conversation.