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Let the Fuhr Fly: Big Telecom Front Group Says Cut Community Broadband to Help Mitigate ‘Fiscal Cliff’


Joseph P. Fuhr Jr. is a real helper. An economics professor at Widener University and a researcher for the Coalition for the New Economy, Fuhr spent time pondering America’s current debt crisis and impending “fiscal cliff” and has come up with some ideas on how to solve it, starting with ending support for community-owned broadband networks. He shared his findings in a guest column printed the Tallahassee Democrat.

“Generally, [these networks] add to the debt load of the municipality that runs them, a burden that certainly has come true in Florida,” Fuhr warns.

Ask most people where the government spends too much and many will suggest corporate welfare, the military, Medicare/Medicaid, or outdated government programs that have outlived their usefulness. Professor Fuhr thinks the gristle that must go comes from about 100 “government-owned broadband networks,” which he labels as “GONs.”

Perhaps that acronym is partly wishful thinking, because Fuhr does not see much use for municipal or public utility broadband, even in areas still waiting for large phone and cable companies to provide the service.

“Of course, not all Floridians are fortunate, not all have access to high-speed broadband, and they should,” writes Fuhr, despite the fact commiserating with the broadband-less does nothing to extend the service to those still using dial-up connections. “However, this service is one that the private sector is able and willing to provide given the correct incentives.”

Incentives. Like taxpayer-funded tax breaks, grants, and rebates?

Fuhr has no problem advocating for taxpayer-funded incentives for private corporate broadband providers, but he opposes directly funding an independent, community-owned broadband service. But it really should not come as a surprise. Fuhr’s sudden interest in cutting public broadband to save us from falling off the fiscal cliff is not really by random chance.

Although readers of the Democrat will probably never learn the “Coalition for the New Economy” is actually a front group largely funded by AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and other telecom industry players that have to compete with community broadband providers, our readers now do.

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Stop the Cap!