Municipal Broadband

There is no question that broadband will become as ubiquitous as the traditional household utilities.

But does it deserve the same classification as water & sewer, roadways, or school systems, in being provided by the government?

A growing number of municipalities are answering “yes” by building their own networks and offering broadband services to their citizens.  ALEC disagrees with their answer due to the negative impacts it has on free markets and limited government.  In addition, such projects could erode consumer choice by making markets less attractive to competition because of the government’s expanded role as a service provider.

In addition, ALEC is concerned that many cities and towns are signing up for these projects before comprehensively evaluating all the issues surrounding this type of initiative.  The fact that no “best practices” or standard business models have yet to emerge and many local governments have used taxpayer money to fund losing ventures warrants the need for government officials and citizens to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages that exist.

ALEC has explored this issue in detail and compiled a list of questions that should be asked when assessing the appropriateness of such a venture.  We grouped these questions for the three parties involved in the decision making process; citizens, local leaders, and state officials, so that they may be well-informed of important criteria with respect to this type of initiative.

If municipalities are inclined to pursue broadband initiatives then certain safeguards must be put in place in order to ensure that private providers, with whom the municipality will compete with, are not disadvantaged by the municipality in the exercise of its bonding and taxing authority, management of rights of way, assessment of fees or taxes, or in any other way.