Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation Releases Municipal Broadband Failure Map

Michi Iljazi

February 7, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC  – The Taxpayers Protection Alliance Foundation (TPAF) today unveiled Broadband Boondoggles, a comprehensive collection of information about taxpayer-funded government internet projects.

Broadband Boondoggles is an online interactive map displaying information such as cost to taxpayers, debt, revenues, number of customers, and other facts related to more than 200 municipal broadband internet projects across America.

The data contained in Broadband Boondoggles indicates publicly funded internet projects are a universal failure.

Government broadband networks cost American taxpayers billions of dollars a year while failing to stimulate economic growth, falling short of projected customer and revenue numbers, struggling to keep up with advancements in technology, and using tax dollars to compete against existing private companies, TPAF discovered.

 “The truth is out, taxpayer-funded broadband is a failure and a waste of valuable resources,” said TPAF president David Williams. “This map shows exactly where government internet schemes are located and how much taxpayers are on the hook for these projects.”

Municipal broadband projects – which are funded by local residents and, in some instances, state and federal taxpayers, as well – frequently result in disastrous consequences for governments and taxpayers.

In Provo, Utah, for example, local taxpayers spent $40 million on a fiber optic experiment called iProvo that quickly began hemorrhaging money. After a $5.35 monthly tax on residents’ electric bills failed to bail out the disastrous broadband project, city officials were forced to sell the network for $1.

Federal and local taxpayers spent more than half-a-billion dollars to build the infrastructure for the city-owned internet, telephone and cable television business in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Despite this enormous cost, promises the network would create thousands of new jobs and revitalize the city’s economy never panned out.

City leaders in Burlington, Vermont, spent $33.5 million to build a municipal broadband network. Lower than anticipated subscriber numbers forced officials to borrow an additional $17 million to keep the network afloat, causing Moody’s to downgrade the city’s credit rating six levels – to the edge of junk bond status. The system was ultimately handed over to a private company.

These examples are not uncommon. According to Broadband Boondoggles, 44 states have at least one failed taxpayer-funded broadband network.

A $160 million fiber network in Lafayette, Louisiana is used by just 16,400 customers and loses up to $45,000 per day. Memphis sold its $32 million internet infrastructure for just $11.5 million. In Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, the government-owned internet business has only 200 customers and is facing debt of more than $9.3 million. Taxpayers in Groton, Connecticut, spent $30 million to build a network that was later sold to a private investor for $150,000 to prevent losing additional money.

“This map should be a warning to all state and local legislators that taxpayer-funded internet projects are a waste of money that will threaten the financial well-being of state and local governments,” Williams said.

Broadband Boondoggles is available online at: http://munibroadbandfailures.com

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