AT&T rails against municipal broadband, argues that it should be the one getting government handouts

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Cities and towns who build their own municipal broadband networks are menaces to capitalism and the American way of life — instead, we should promote free enterprise by funneling taxpayer dollars to private corporations instead. That’s literally the message that AT&T delivered to the Federal Communications Commission recently when it filed its arguments against allowing municipalities to build out their own high-speed fiber networks to compete with incumbent ISPs.

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The filing, which was flagged by Ars Technica’s eagled-eyed Jon Brodkin, argued that municipal broadband networks should simply be banned anywhere there happens to be an ISP that offers service of 6Mbps or greater, even if the municipal network would deliver speeds of 1Gbps or higher for its users.

“GONs [government-owned networks] should not be utilized where the private sector already is providing broadband or can be expected to do so in a reasonable timeframe,” AT&T wrote. “Although many GONs have failed, or at least failed to live up to expectations, GONs can nonetheless discourage private sector investment because of understandable concerns by private sector entities of a non-level playing field. And any policy that risks diminishing private sector investment would be short-sighted and unwise.”

That doesn’t mean the government has no role to play in spreading adoption of high-speed broadband, of course — it’s just that AT&T wants to be the ones getting the goodies.

How do we know this? Because later in the filing, AT&T wrote that “any tax incentives or exemptions should be provided, if at all, to private sector firms to induce them to expand broadband deployment to unserved areas.”

As Brodkin writes, AT&T’s declaration that building municipal broadband networks will reduce their willingness to invest in faster networks just isn’t supported by the facts. After all, Brodkin points out, incumbent ISPs who serve the Chattanooga, Tennessee area actually started aggressively upgrading their networks once the city launched its own fiber service.

Be sure to read Brodkin’s full report by clicking the source link below.

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