TPA Submits Testimony to Massachusetts Legislators Opposing Municipal Broadband Bill

David Williams

November 10, 2015

Municipal broadband, or government broadband, has been an increasing problem for taxpayers. Local lawmakers use it as a “shiny object” sold as a new, better, and more affordable alternative to private sector broadband options. Unfortunately these networks are expensive and unnecessary, usually costing taxpayers more while failing to deliver the quality of service that’s promised. TPA has been working to fight and expose government owned networks (GONs) all around the country and the latest example comes from Massachusetts. Today, lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy will consider testimony on a bill that would move the state closer to their own government broadband service. Yesterday, TPA submitted a letter as testimony, urging the committee members to oppose the bill.

Read the letter below:


November 9, 2015

Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy
Room 413-F
State House
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Committee Members,

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), which represents millions of taxpayers across the country and Massachusetts, urges you to oppose House Bill 2854, which would establish a fund to study and build government-owned broadband networks.

Municipal networks put taxpayers at great risk and do little to help the economies of the cities and states that support them. TPA has studied these systems and our findings should be a warning to any level of government that is considering using tax dollars to fund these networks.  For example:

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee’s EPB network received hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, but doesn’t provide prices that are any more attractive than private providers’ prices;
  • In Utah, the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA), which has accrued over $500 million in debt, is still working out outstanding issues on cost and feasibility;
  • In Louisiana, after several years of taxpayer investment, Lafayette’s LUS Fiber is in debt over $160 million. The taxpayer-funded network is running 30 percent short of its revenue projections and struggling to compete with established private sector services in the area.

The evidence is clear that taxpayer-funded broadband networks are bad for taxpayers and all citizens. Governments should focus on core responsibilities like public safety and real infrastructure, not expensive broadband networks.  We urge you to reject House Bill 2854 to ensure that taxpayers are protected.

Sincerely,

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

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