Letter to the Editor: Government Subsidy Too High for Broadband Extension
Today the Saint Louis Business Journal published a letter to the editor by John Payne and me (link added):
The editorial board recently oversimplified our views on rural broadband access (“It’s a wired world, after all,” Aug. 20 issue). We do not oppose the proliferation of broadband into rural areas, merely the government subsidization of such expansion. Greater broadband penetration in rural areas indeed provides social benefits, but we remain skeptical that those benefits will outweigh cost of millions in taxpayer dollars.
Solutions for extending broadband exist in the private sector. I-Land Internet Services, for example, is expanding broadband into rural western Missouri at no cost to taxpayers. Fifty percent of people living in rural areas already have home broadband Internet service, according to a Pew Internet study released earlier this month. Furthermore, of the people who do not have high-speed Internet, only 6 percent cited a lack of access as the primary reason for not subscribing, compared with 48 percent who find the Internet irrelevant and 18 percent who have usability issues. Eighty million dollars is a very high cost to benefit such a small subset of people.
Christine Harbin, research analyst, Show-Me Institute
John Payne, research assistant, Show-Me Institute