Heartland Institute Reacts to Common Cause Report on ‘Greenlight’ Municipal Broadband in Wilson, NC

December 07, 2012

Common Cause, a liberal advocacy group, and the Institute for Local Self Reliance released a report Friday praising the municipal fiber optic broadband network in Wilson, North Carolina. “Greenlight” was built with a $33 million loan from city taxpayers.

The following statements from technology policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank whose researchers oppose publicly backed municipal broadband schemes – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at tnash@heartland.org and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/731-9364.

“The people of Wilson had better like the service and speed of Greenlight – pretty much forever – because this municipal network, with its publicly subsidized and artificially low prices, has greatly discouraged any new competitors from entering the market. The ‘Greenlight’ will be looking pretty dim to residents years from now when it is virtually the only network in town – and will be as unresponsive to customer demands as most monopolies.”

Jim Lakely
Co-Director, Center on the Digital Economy
The Heartland Institute

“If this were such a good idea, some company would have invested $33 million of its own money to make it happen, instead of gouging the taxpayers. The fact that nobody did is proof that this is another government boondoggle. We’ll see how long ‘Greenlight operates in the black,’ as the report states. History says it won’t be long at all before they come to the taxpayers for more subsidies.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute

“The joint Project Greenlight report by Common Cause and the Institute for Local Self Reliance paints a pretty picture of more public choices for better, less-expensive cable, telephone, and broadband. Scratch the surface, however, and it becomes apparent that not only are Wilson taxpayers on the hook for a $33 million investment, which they didn’t even get an opportunity to vote on, but the supposed ‘savings’ are buried in increased utility costs estimated to add 50 percent to electricity rates and 30 percent to natural gas rates.

“In effect, this amounts to the citizens and businesses of Wilson thrice-paying for the alleged ‘lower rates’ – monthly subscription billings, local taxes, and higher utility bills.”

Bruce Edward Walker
Policy Advisor, Telecom
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.