Sunday, August 06, 2017

U.S. policymakers continue to engage in misguided, wishful thinking on telecom infrastructure modernization

North Georgia featured in CBS report on rural broadband [VIDEO] - Now Habersham: Millions of Americans today lack access to effective broadband service and many rural Georgians are among them. It’s an issue that’s grabbed the attention of state politicians and, now, the national media. CBS This Morning on Friday reported on the economic struggles facing Northeast Georgians and others who live in communities that lack broadband infrastructure.The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week committed over $2B in subsidies over the next decade to help telecom companies expand rural broadband.

Congress also is considering legislation that would incentivize broadband infrastructure investment and foster market competition. Georgia’s 9th District Congressman Doug Collins recently introduced the Gigabit Opportunity Act or GO Act. It would allow companies to defer certain capital gains taxes when they convert those gains to long-term investments in broadband infrastructure within state-designated “Gigabit Opportunity Zones.” Companies also would be allowed to expense the cost of expansion on the front end in ‘GO Zones’.

American policymakers continue to engage in misguided, wishful thinking when it comes to badly needed modernization of the nation's outdated telecommunications infrastructure to fast, reliable fiber to the premise (FTTP) technology for the 21st century. Two billion dollars will barely make a dent in the estimated $300 billion needed for job.

Offering tax incentives is similarly wishful, unrealistic thinking. What's needed is an aggressive federal initiative to build FTTP and treat it like a common carrier public asset. Tax incentives are the wrong approach. They are not national infrastructure initiatives; they are limited scope economic development tools.

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