A push by cities across the country to get into the business of the Internet is raising concerns that local governments, with Washington’s blessing, are meddling where they are not needed — and wasting taxpayer dollars in the process.
The push was fueled earlier this year, when President Obama in January introduced a plan for municipal broadband projects which, according to the administration, would encourage “competition and choice” while offering a “level-playing field” for high-speed Internet access.
But critics say municipal broadband projects – or Internet services provided at least in part by local governments — are an example of government overreach, and a bid to compete with private service providers that have successfully operated for years.
“This is a case of local bureaucrats saying that this is a high-tech ‘sexy’ project that will win voters, but it’s actually a needless experiment,” Kevin Glass, director of policy and outreach at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, told Fox News.
Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission issued an order aimed at laws that restricted community broadband in two states, North Carolina and Tennessee. The FCC overturned those laws, and in the process created a framework for 20 states to break down other barriers restricting community broadband services. President Obama urged the FCC action, which passed on a narrow 3-2 vote.