Home » Astroturf »Broadband Speed »Community Networks »Competition »Consumer News »Public Policy & Gov't » Currently Reading:

Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform Slams Another Public Broadband Project

Americans for Tax Reform’s leader Grover Norquist is continuing a campaign against municipally owned public broadband projects, labeling them “really stupid ideas” that are best left in the hands of private companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Charter.

Norquist’s group is one of many Koch Brothers’ funded groups butting into the local public discussion about Traverse City Light & Power’s new fiber-to-the-premises project, which would deliver a gigabit fiber optic alternative to the area’s dominant phone and cable companies. TCL&P already provides electric service in Traverse City, and is considering introducing fiber broadband for 2,300 downtown customers. As the local utility works towards developing a business plan, local officials are suddenly receiving opposition mailers and phone calls from a variety of national groups with a coordinated message against “government-owned networks.”

None of the groups contacting city officials will reveal their funding sources, but there are strong suspicions the coordinated effort is designed to protect the city’s existing duopoly, run by Charter Spectrum and AT&T.

The Record-Eagle notes city officials and residents are receiving professionally printed postcards and other mailers some consider “propaganda.” Not every letter of opposition generated by these campaigns appears to be genuine. Traverse City Commissioner Amy Shamroe told the newspaper the city studies incoming opposition emails and calls, and found many are questionable form letters, including a few that claim to be from “Firstnametest Lastnametest.”

Shamroe

“I encourage dissenting opinions, but I like them to come from real people,” she said.

Although some genuine Traverse City residents are telling local officials they oppose government competition with private businesses, Shamroe says a much larger number of people support the project and are frustrated with its slow pace.

Norquist argues public broadband believers are being snookered into supporting “really stupid ideas” that will ultimately require taxpayer bailouts or come with hidden fees and taxes. Norquist claims he is not aware of any successful municipal broadband project, despite the fact there are dozens of successful projects that have received strong support in their communities, especially when providers offer services that cable and phone companies will not deliver. In Michigan, Holland BPW (a municipal utility), Sebewing, and Midwest Connections Electric Co-Op, are all successfully providing fiber broadband services to their customers.

Much of the opposition to community broadband is designed to muddy the waters about such projects, using opposition mass-mailings and paid staffers to argue such broadband projects are risky at best, failures at worst. Their opposition is backed up with articles and studies that claim to prove government-run broadband has been a national fiasco, although most of their sources and studies have undisclosed direct or indirect ties to the same cable and phone companies that would face direct competition from a community run provider.

In the past, local officials have often been unprepared to deal with professionally-coordinated opposition efforts, but Traverse City officials are ready to deal with the opposition’s talking points, and have shared a detailed FAQ about the project.

One local resident brought many of those talking points up at an association meeting, and Shamroe was prepared to answer them point by point. The resident recognized he was “blindsided” by the opposition’s distorted representations about the project, and thanked Shamroe for addressing his concerns.

Ironically, Norquist told the newspaper he was particularly opposed to local utilities and governments using excess revenue earned from overcharging utility customers to fund fiber optic competition, arguing that if a provider is overcharging you for a service and making excess profits from it, “they should give you the money back.”

That is an argument Norquist has never brought to the attention of AT&T, Charter, Comcast, and Verizon.

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. L. Nova says:

    Grover Norquist is a cancer on humanity.







Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • fhall: "If Charter again fails to stay on schedule, it must pay $2,800 for each designated-as-missed passing address into an escrow fund." That should be "....
  • Wayne: Comcast is known for its shady billing practices. The FCC has finally started to hit them with hefty fines. I urge everyone who is having a problem to...
  • sherdilkhan: This was a very nice feature to use the phone to go app when On road to connect with your family and friends. I Wish they improved the service, instea...
  • Mike: Their customer service is brutally bad. The verification system is intrusive and cumbersome. The sales department uses bait and switch tactics. Onc...
  • Larry Fostano: Try Instructables.com they have several designs that work, it’s a consortium of DIYers that constantly build and test their designs, best of all it’s ...
  • Larry Fostano: I have made several and they worked well. Read what had been written about antennas, good information , line of sight and the surrounding trees are so...
  • L. Nova: I remember reading about lasers being developed to replace the light signals currently in fiber optic communication lines. This is progress....
  • Doug: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP47oBs4afM Google the antenna. Read the reviews of people who have installed it and have experience with it. I hav...
  • Al Ardowski: Hay did anyone own or purchase the Lava antenna I been scammed to many times iam looking for some reports good or bad not from there company from the ...
  • Al A: I wish I found this web site a wile ago I also ordered the wive wire antenna 2 weeks ago before I finally ordered it I was trying to get information o...
  • Dylan: I just wanted to mention Dampier to clear up confusion that even bringing your own modem to activate as a first time customer also results in a $10 on...
  • John Berry: Free Signal TV is a US company located in Burlington, KY that manufacturers high-quality long distance OTA Antenna products and mobile entertainment e...

Your Account: