Saturday, August 04, 2007

Congress Introduces Bill to Allow Governments to Compete in the Broadband Market

This would be bad news: via Ars Technica, it appears that Congress has introduced a bill that would overrule state laws that prohibit munipal broadband. Essentially, it would allow cities and towns to build their own broadband networks in competition with private providers.

Now, government has no special intelligence when it comes to providing such services. In fact, it really knows very little about it, as evidenced by the millions of dollars wasted every year by incompetent government IT departments.

It also has no money to spend on such ventures, other than the taxpayer money that it expropriates from its citizens. This means that government would necessarily be taking money from some group of citizens who either already have their own broadband connections or could care less about it, to provide broadband services to those who, for whatever reason, don't have it. And, of course, there's also the issue of those who current pay for broadband services with private companies to cancel and take advantage of the government-subsidized service.

Finally, government is by definition that entity that possesses a monopoly on the legal use of force; in one sense, government is force, because all of its legitimate functions (police, courts, military, etc.) are aimed at retaliating against those who initiate the use of force. Introducing force into the market does not create "competition," it creates coercion, no matter how the bill might be written. Government corruption stems from its ability to influence lives and business; we don't need more opportunities for it.

In other words, there's no good reason for municipalities to setup broadband services, and plenty of bad reasons. And I haven't even touched upon the economic impact that forcing broadband connectivity with current technologies will have on the development of new technology.

I hope to hell that this bill doesn't pass. Incidentally, it's the Community Broadband Act of 2007, if you feel inclined to contact your Congressperson.

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