Sunday, August 30, 2009

Free Market Solutions for High Speed Internet

During the time I have served as State Representative, my office has handled a number of constituent requests. One of the issues I am most often asked to check into is why a certain area does not have access to broadband Internet and when it might become available. Usually the constituent who has an interest in this issue lives in a rural part of the district and is understandably frustrated that they cannot get online quickly.

I am always happy to assist by serving as a go-between with the utility providers to make sure the company knows that there are prospective customers desiring service, and I support expansion as broadband providers work to boost their capacity and bring this service to new areas. This technology is usually a key factor in developers locating new neighborhoods and it has a direct impact on the ability of the area to support new growth. Most people are going to be very hesitant to re-locate to an area where there is limited high speed access.

However, I am not a supporter of some of the possible suggested approaches of having the government subsidize this service by raising phone taxes in order to pay for it. I feel that when government thwarts the free market process, there can be significantly negative ramifications.

No doubt by now you have noticed that all of the taxes placed on your phone or Internet bill under line items have complicated sounding names but give little way to tell what they are really used for (I hope to write in more detail about these charges in another update). There are already too many of these taxes and I do not feel that people should be asked to pay for any new ones.

I think that a recent development in Logan County demonstrates the mistaken nature of this type of government intervention. One of the largest telecom providers recently expanded their 3G wireless network into Logan County so that now their customers do not have to deal with high speed wireless that cuts off at the county line. These types of fast wireless networks are quickly evolving into a state where one day they may very well make traditional land line access completely unnecessary.

Not only will the next generation of 4G wireless networks allow for the bypassing of traditional phone regulatory roadblocks (which could lead to advancements such a free international calling), but they could be the backbone of an infrastructure that will support low cost solutions to issues such as emergency interoperable communications and possibly save taxpayers millions of dollars.

This expansion is just a simple reminder that while politicians consider such issues as the government subsidized expansion of broadband, the free market is providing options that will quickly provide the solutions to problems the government has just started to address.

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