Uncommon Wisdom

Apr 8 2009   1:41PM GMT

Government-sponsored broadband: Hard track record to overcome

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

You’d think that municipal and state governments in the U.S. were drinking too much Fosters. Many of them are looking actively at applying for some of the broadband stimulus dollars to create government networks for their citizens, following the same model as Australia but on a smaller scale.

There is obviously a lot of opportunism and manipulation going on here. Big OTT players like Google have long supported any municipal or governmental network alternatives to the big cable and telco providers because they fear that for-profit access will eventually stop investing in capacity unless access ROI is improved.

The question (here or in Australia) is whether it’s prudent to spend tax dollars of any sort to create a government program for broadband. Most of these plans, based on WiFi for example, have failed completely. We’re skeptical, but programs that would use tax dollars (including stimulus dollars) to fund FTTH, which would then be “lit” by companies, might be a way of advancing broadband without creating a catastrophic collision with commercial providers.

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