At first glance, broadband internet service would seem to belong solely to the private sector. After all, these companies are in business to make a profit, and when they make their products and services appealing to customers they are entitled to prosper and grow. Even so, there is a role for the government in expanding the availability of broadband internet services like DSL, cable and fiber optic, and there are some very valid reasons for government to be involved in this segment of the market.
One of the most important reasons state and local governments are getting involved in the push for greater broadband access is that this type of access tends to attract business to the region – not just high tech firms but all kinds of companies who need access to the most modern equipment. For instance, a high-tech manufacturing company might be reluctant to locate its new factory in a town that lacks broadband internet access. The machines at that factory may need high-speed internet access to download updates, send orders and perform a host of other functions. By helping broadband internet providers enter that town, the government officials overseeing the project make the location much more attractive to businesses from around the world.
Government leaders often cite education as another important factor in the push for greater broadband internet access. These days students often receive homework assignments that are nearly impossible to complete without access to the internet, and slow dial-up may not provide the speed those students need to get ahead. By subsidizing broadband access, government officials hope to inspire the next generation and help students from the U.S. compete with their counterparts around the world.
Some may argue that it is not the role of the government to help private businesses get ahead, and those people certainly have a point. When the government gets into the business of picking winners and losers, it opens up a host of thorny legal, moral and ethical questions. Even so, there are things governments can do to boost the availability of broadband access without harming the free market.
One of the barriers to entry in terms of broadband internet access is the initial infrastructure expense. Running wires, laying cables and wiring homes and businesses is an expensive proposition, and companies may be reluctant to invest that kind of money for an uncertain return. State and local government officials can help the process – and aid their citizens – by partially subsidizing that initial cost. If it is done right, this type of project can be a win-win for everyone involved. The broadband company gains access to hundreds of thousands of new potential customers, all while limiting their initial expenses and risk. The town becomes a more attractive place to do business, and the people living there find that they have more choices when it comes to accessing the data they need. As business grows, the broadband companies can pay the government back, with interest, for its initial investment. It may not be a perfect solution, but many towns and cities are finding that this type of public/private partnership is the best way to bring broadband access to their citizens.
In this article by beconrad the theory that not just established providers like sky home should play a lead role but also that governments need to play a big part in broadband provison