By Scott Tibbs, October 30, 2015
City-run broadband Internet is a bad idea that has not worked in the past and will not work in Bloomington. Both the city council and the next mayor should go to Reason.com and read their lengthy and well-researched article about city-run broadband and think very carefully before committing a huge sum of tax money to this project.
This is something that might have made sense fifteen years ago, when broadband Internet was less common. Today in Bloomington, we have AT&T, Smithville Telephone and Comcast cable internet all competing for subscribers among the business community and the wider population. Indiana University has a reliable and fast broadband network as well.
As Reason.com points out, the "success story" in Chattanooga took an infusion of $111 million from the federal government to get it done. Do the proponents of a broadband network in our city have a plan to get the federal government to "invest" in it so local taxpayers do not have to bear the entire burden themselves?
This plan is a corporate welfare scheme that should be abandoned before it is started. If there is a legitimate business need for a citywide fiber-optic network, then that need will and should be filled by the business community. It should not be the role of city government to tax everyone for the financial benefit of only a few. Indiana University students, especially, should not be forced to pay for a large investment for the private sector that will not benefit those students when they are gone in four years. Make no mistake: Students do pay property taxes through their rent.
This is not economic development - it is crony capitalism and corporate wefare. This is a project that would be better left as an unfulfilled campaign promise.