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Commentary: An Opposing View on Government-Owned Broadband
10/26/2016 at 07:05 am - David Williams


This piece originally appeared in The Canton Repository on October 19, 2016

The Canton Repository Editorial Board reacted to the release of the Stark County Broadband Task Team’s broadband feasibility study by stating that they were “encouraged” to see the Task Team taking steps forward, but also cautioning that “big questions” related to the project remain unanswered. For readers who might not yet be familiar with that study, it is designed to determine if a municipal broadband network is feasible in Stark County. The new study projects an approximate cost of $22.5 million dollars to build the new broadband network. The Editorial Board makes one very good point about the cost when noting that, “how the county would be able to afford it is another question.” Taxpayers need to know the financial risks associated with the project and the feasibility test certainly shows that taxpayer money is going to be at risk if the project moves forward. An earlier editorial noted that other U.S. cities have conducted similar studies. That’s true. One of those studies was done in Seattle, Wash., the city that exemplifies technology. Seattle looked at the feasibility of a citywide, taxpayer-funded broadband network a handful of times and each time public officials dismissed the notion. After the latest effort carried out last year, city officials acknowledged it would be nearly impossible for the city network to break even on an annual basis and that persistent yearly deficits would put funding for other government programs at risk.

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