Can Market-Friendly Ideas Address Gaps in Broadband Deployment?

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By any objective measure, the rollout of broadband services to the country is going phenomenally well, and is largely being done with private capital and without involving taxpayer dollars. As you might expect, broadband providers have focused on areas where demand and market forces sufficiently incentivize private network companies. But there obviously remains the problem of areas where, for reasons of geography, population density, or other issues, making a business case for deploying broadband is a challenge.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is about to reveal its recommendations to Congress regarding a National Broadband Plan. As part of the FCC’s efforts, they have solicited ideas from the public on what should be the elements of the plan.

We strongly suspect that the FCC is inclined to go in a direction that involves much more government spending, subsidy and regulation, and which undermines the existing investment and future role of private network providers. And, indeed most of the ideas submitted to the FCC’s website involve exactly such a Bigger Government direction.

We think this would be a mistake. So the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) has suggested a market-friendly idea for encouraging broadband buildout to unserved areas based on the success of enterprise zones over the past thirty years.

In areas designated as “Broadband Enterprise zones” (based on broadband mapping), broadband providers would receive federal tax credits which could be used to offset the company’s overall federal tax burden. And vouchers could be issued to homeowners to pay for installation and setup within the Enterprise Zone.

You can learn more about IPI’s Broadband Enterprise Zone proposal by reading the summary on the FCC website. And, if you like the idea, you can even vote for it by using the IdeaScale platform. Here’s how:

*1 – Read IPI’s idea: http://broadband.ideascale.com/a/dtd/22237-5251
*2 – If you wish to support the idea, click on “Vote Up.”
*3 – If this is your first time using IdeaScale, you will need to create an account. Enter your information.
*4 – When you sign up, you will receive an email from IdeaScale containing a confirmation link. You must click this confirmation link to confirm your account setup.
*5 – After confirming your account, return to IPI’s Idea: http://broadband.ideascale.com/a/dtd/22237-5251
*6 – Click on “Vote Up.”
*7 – Your vote will be counted! You may wish to read other ideas on the site and vote them up or down.

‘Today’s TechByte was written by Bartlett D. Cleland, director of IPI Center for Technology Freedom.’

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