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Experts Concerned About Biden’s Costly Broadband Infrastructure Proposals


05.19.21

[G]overnment-run networks fail to deliver access to reliable, high quality, affordable broadband.” 

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris say Americans pay too much for the internet and more than people in many other countries. Both these claims are false.” 

“These proposals would harm competition and innovation, leading to lower private investment in broadband infrastructure.” 

“A wasteful and antiquated strategy. 

“Does nothing to close the digital divide.” 

 That’s what experts and top voices in broadband are saying about President Biden’s costly, heavy-handed broadband agendaKEY: If enacted, it will NOT help improve affordability or closthe digital divide in America 

Don’t miss these full reviews: 

“… A plethora of empirical evidence show why and how government-run networks fail to deliver access to reliable, high quality, affordable broadband. It would be great if it were true. But that’s not what the empirical evidence shows!! Municipal broadband will not deliver the claimed benefits. Customers will not get faster internet speeds, lower prices, and better customer service than from ISPs. It will all be at the taxpayers’ expense! Facts do not support overthrowing private competition for government sponsored broadband. – Krisztina Pusok, Director, Center for Citizen Research, American Consumer Institute, via Twitter 

Before giving out further subsidies for broadband companies, the Biden administration should study why previous subsidies have failed to substantially expand internet in rural areas.”  Ryan Nabil, Research Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute via Twitter 

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris say Americans pay too much for the internet and more than people in many other countries. Both these claims are false... Affordability is a demand, not supply, issue... It is far better to give money directly to end users (like the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit which provides $50 per month to eligible households) rather than sponsor intermediaries like local government, the least efficient and experienced actors to deliver broadband. A Biden-Harris plan would use taxes and deficit spending to fund cities which already have networks… The lack of economics in the Biden-Harris broadband proposal is unfortunate.” – Roslyn Layton, Senior Contributor at Forbes 

To state the obvious, the $100 billion Biden broadband plan means more regulation, higher taxes and worse service. It will harm vulnerable Americans more than help them, and derail the private sector’s on-going efforts to expand Internet access. By prioritizing municipal broadband — Internet access built and run by the government — the Biden Administration is ignoring what we already know about such efforts: They don’t work.”  Beverly McKittrickWashington Times 

“[Regulations] and merger policies make Europe a difficult market. According to the Financial Times and Bloomberg data, from 2012 to 2018, the value of Europe’s telecom companies fell almost 50%. The value of the US sector rose by 70% and the Asian sector rose by 13% in that time period.” – Brent Skorup, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University via Twitter 

“On the broadband deployment side, an R Street blog post details the potential hazards with the Biden infrastructure proposals. Most worrisome, the plan appears to call for a favoritism toward municipally run networks, despite significant potential problems with these networks. Further, the plan also calls for future proofing broadband networks, though this essentially means fiber networks with symmetrical 100 megabits per second (Mbps) upload and download speeds. These proposals would harm competition and innovation, leading to lower private investment in broadband infrastructure. Instead, Congress should continue the streamlining of local deployment processes, as local barriers such as access to public rights-of-way and replacing utility poles can often serve as a significant barrier to deployment. 

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On the broadband adoption side, the Biden plan also alluded to potential price controls, with general sentiment being that broadband prices are too high. However, data suggests prices are lower and speeds are higher than ever before. To the extent that low-income consumers need additional support to afford broadband connectivity, Congress should instead look to potential reforms to the Lifeline program that would deliver the benefit directly to the consumers, as well as update the funding mechanism to bring stability to the program.” – R Street Letter to the Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta and Chairman Mike Doyle 

“Under the American Jobs Plan, the Biden administration would allocate $100 billion to build high-speed broadband. The proposal would distribute funding with a preference for municipal broadband initiatives and the construction of “future proof” infrastructure. It also seeks to reduce the cost of broadband internet to encourage adoption, though the means for cost mitigation remain unclear. Unfortunately, this plan quickly becomes counterproductive. Municipal broadband projects often ignore the key challenge: the equilibrium number of firms. By adding an additional competitor that can cross-subsidize broadband provisions, municipal networks often disrupt the market and freeze private investment. Municipal broadband might make sense in communities that truly lack a business case for the deployment of private networks, but the plan would also make these communities more difficult to identify by distorting the definition of served.” – Jeffrey Westling, Resident Fellow, Technology & Innovation, R Street Institute via Twitter

Fact check – Why do people keep saying relevance isn’t a factor in broadband adoption? GAO and CPS Computer and Internet Use Supplement shows this well-known fact is persistent across income levels”  Sarah Oh, Senior Fellow, Technology Policy Institute via Twitter 

The facts on broadband are clear: Investment by private providers resulted in strong & innovative networks that withstood the demands of the pandemic and continue to carry our economy forward through the acceleration to all things digital. Imposing new burdens on broadband providers and shoveling vast sums of tax dollars to poorly performing local government networks is a wasteful and antiquated strategy for addressing disparities and closing the digital divide. – Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council via Twitter 

Recreating the outdated regulatory wheel of old and throwing money to poorly performing government-owned networks that lack the incentive to innovate and invest is very 1970s. This policy playbook does not work.”– Karen Karrigan, President and CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council 

Joe Biden’s plan does almost nothing to close the digital divide. It even limits the technologies carriers can use to promote our broadband networks to fiber-only strategies. Government-run broadband prices do not substantially differ from private ISPs’ and entry-level plans are comparable to municipal broadband. [The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies] found the average prices were 13% higher in cities with a municipal provider than in cities without. – Joel Thayer, Principal, Thayer, P.L.L.C. Via Twitter  

ICYMI: Watch Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies Chief Economist, George Ford, discuss Biden’s costly, burdensome broadband infrastructure proposals at a May 6 Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. 

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