Sunday, February 05, 2012

Georgia cities oppose proposed legislation curbing community networks

Representatives from several Georgia cities testified last week in opposition to state Senate Bill 313, legislation sponsored by investor-owned telecommunications providers that would bar local governments from using public funds to finance municipally owned Internet infrastructure. From the Associated Press story:

Leaders from cities including Elberton, Hogansville, Thomasville, Monroe and Toccoa lined up to tell senators that broadband is necessary infrastructure for the 21st century economic development they hope to attract — and that they are doing what they must to keep their communities competitive.

"We cannot wait for the private sector to ride to our rescue," said Tim Martin, executive director of the Toccoa-Stephens County Development Authority.

Martin is correct. Investor owned providers cannot earn a sufficiently rapid and adequate return on capital expenditures on last mile Internet infrastructure to satisfy their shareholders. That's why public funding is entirely appropriate just as it finances construction of roads and highways. This isn't rocket science -- just simple economics.

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