Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Massachusetts town case in point why federal government (and not state and local government) should finance telecommunications infrastructure

Montgomery voters reject high speed internet | WWLP.com: Monday night, more than 200 residents voted on whether to connect every Montgomery home to the World Wide Web as part of the “wired west movement.” Wired west is an initiative to connect all under-served Massachusetts communities to a high speed fiber. The state covers 35% of
the cost, with the town having to cover the rest.

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Only 140 people came out to vote on this issue last June, and it was rejected. A group of residents petitioned to hold another vote.

“It’s been difficult, for example I work at home, I’ve had problems with the speed of the internet. It’s actually affected my ability to run my business out of my home so that’s been a frustration,” said Sonia Ellis, a Montgomery resident.

128 people were for high speed internet while 103 were against it, but It required a two thirds majority. The project would have required the town to pay more than $600-thousand.

This is a case in point showing that relying on state and local government to finance the construction of universal fiber to the premise telecommunications infrastructure isn't good public policy. Many billions of dollars are needed to ensure every American home and small business has an FTTP connection that they should have had by 2010 but for the absence of sound policy and planning. As I argue in my recent eBook Service Unavailable: America's Telecommunications Infrastructure Crisis, it's a job that requires the federal government to fund like building roads and highways in the pre-Internet era.

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