Vote NO on the Hampden Ballot Question – a $4.5M waste of your tax money – on November 2nd
A ballot question appearing on Hampden’s municipal election ballot this November seeks to authorize a town-owned broadband network that will have a serious impact on Hampden taxpayers.
The proposal going before Hampden voters on November 2nd would spend $4.5 million in taxpayer dollars for a duplicative town-owned broadband network – an unnecessary waste of your tax dollars.
- A private internet provider just announced plans to build a fiber network in Hampden with no taxpayer funding needed!
- And look at the recent Fiberite project-another white elephant and a waste of tax money in Hampden. Do we really want to borrow public money to provide questionable internet service when another provider is promising to do it without using tax dollars? This proposal just doesn’t make sense.
What are Government-Owned Networks (GONs)?
GONs are a tried and failed attempt by governments to own, develop, operate, and control their residents’ broadband networks (more commonly known as internet service). They are burdens on taxpayers that seldom lead to greater access or lower costs for high-speed internet.
From Burlington, VT, and Groton, CT, to Opelika, AL and Provo, UT, municipalities across the country that have tried to build or operate their own broadband networks have failed.
GONs often struggle to cover the cost of development and operations – providing lower-quality service, using technology that quickly becomes obsolete, and ultimately wasting resources and burdening local taxpayers with financing debts to pay off.
What do local governments know about such highly technical, increasingly complex, and expensive ventures? Not nearly enough, considering that those localities, and countless others, tried to build GONs that ended up draining taxpayer dollars. Burlington dipped into general revenues to keep their network afloat until it failed completely, and Groton’s GON lost $2 million per year, eventually being sold at a $30 million loss.
Government should focus on improving municipal services – addressing crime, fixing roads, beautifying public spaces, picking up trash, bolstering tourism, and addressing the basic needs of their citizens – not building broadband networks.
Vote NO on the Hampden Ballot Question on November 2nd
What Could a Government-Owned Network Mean for Hampden?
Higher Property Taxes
Increased Broadband Costs
Low-Quality Internet Service
Fewer Resources to Deliver Important Government Services
According to a recent study by University of Pennsylvania Professor Christopher Yoo:
- Only two of the nineteen [government-owned] networks surveyed earn enough to cover the costs of development over 30 to 40 years of useful life.
- Eleven of the twenty networks do not generate enough revenue to cover even operating costs.
- Seven of the nine networks that could recover costs would need more than 60 years to do so and five would take more than 100 years.
A GOVERNMENT-OWNED NETWORK WILL NOT CLOSE MAINE’S DIGITAL DIVIDE
There are better solutions to expand access to high-speed broadband than a government-owned network in Hampden. Hampden residents already have access to two different internet service providers (ISPs) and another one just announced they are building a fiber network throughout the town. Public-private partnerships that allow the expertise of private ISPs to be the driving force for innovative change and expansion are proven solutions that should be considered in the fight to close Maine’s digital divide. Instead of wasting government resources to build out broadband to areas already adequately served, scarce public funding should focus on creating incentives for the private sector to expand into unserved areas.