Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Iowa governor sets goal of universal premise Internet service

Iowa Poll: Aid for broadband gets Iowans' OK | The Des Moines Register | desmoinesregister.com: While adoption and satisfaction are relatively high, Gov. Terry Branstad’s Internet expansion initiative aims for 100 percent.

“The governor’s bill is titled the ‘Connect Every Iowan’ bill, not ‘Connect Some Iowans’ or ‘Connect a majority of Iowans,’ ” said Adam Gregg, the governor’s lobbyist. “... We want to encourage ubiquitous access all throughout the state.”
This should be a goal for every state. But setting a goal without a realistic plan to reach it will only produce disappointment. Branstad's plan for getting there is based on providing tax incentives to spur the construction of necessary infrastructure. Problem is tax incentives alone cannot overcome market failure -- when there is insufficient economic incentive to invest in infrastructure reaching every home and business. To reach that goal, Iowa and other similarly situated states would have to form and fund state Internet infrastructure authorities to subsidize municipal networks and telecommunications consumer cooperatives.

Since states adjacent to Iowa tend to also suffer from market failure that leaves many of their residents off the Internet grid, Bradstad might also consider negotiating a compact with these states as he is currently doing for the health insurance exchange marketplace to form a regional Internet infrastructure authority. The very fact the Bradstad is acting on this issue in Iowa points up the deficiencies in U.S. federal government policy that leaves many Americans in Iowa and other states with less than universal premise Internet access.

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