By Jim Waters
Bluegrass Institute President
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky taxpayers, take note: Unless the new governor reverses course, Bluegrass country will soon be home to a costly statewide, government-owned broadband network called KentuckyWired.
This network will compete with private job creators and cost us hundreds of millions of dollars.
KentuckyWired supporters argue: broadband infrastructure is no different than roads and bridges, and so the government should be in charge. But what was sold to us nine months ago as a $30 million taxpayer commitment has already ballooned into a $400 million boondoggle.
Where would lawmakers find these funds? Would they raise taxes or take funding from education or from transportation?
Providing Internet service isn't the same as building roads and bridges. How often do roads require upgrading because they are technologically out of date? Fiber infrastructure, on the other hand, requires almost constant improvements to keep up with consumers' data demands and appetite for faster service.
Studies show government networks don't reduce consumer prices or enhance competition. In fact, they will send private Internet Service Providers running to another state or put them out of business altogether.
Do Kentucky consumers even want a government-owned monopoly on broadband service? I don't think so.
November's election provides an opportunity to hit the reset button on KentuckyWired. Relying on current budget considerations - and given the rising costs and many unknown factors associated with KentuckyWired - the Bevin administration should rethink the commonwealth's commitment to this costly boondoggle.