by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
On May 19, 2020, the Director of Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jon Sanders, submitted comments to the Wake Forest Board of Commissioners on a proposal to finance a fiber infrastructure project. Sanders opposed the proposal for several reasons, namely:
- An uncertain economy for the foreseeable future will constrain Town revenues
- An uncertain economy for the foreseeable future will adversely affect residents and taxpayers
- There is no apparent lack of fiber and broadband choices and competition affecting Wake Forest residents and businesses
- Similar projects at other municipalities have yielded poor outcomes
- This project does not seem necessary or expedient
Jon Sanders explains why the project unnecessary, as there is no apparent lack of high-speed internet providers in Wake Forest. Sanders writes:
There are several providers of high-speed Internet services in Wake Forest. Notably, many offer speeds reaching 1,000 Megabits per second (Mbps). The high-speed providers serving Wake Forest include: CenturyLink (1,000 Mbps), AT&T (1,000 Mbps), Earthlink (1,000 Mbps), Spectrum (940 Mbps), and Viasat (100 Mbps).
Even if Wake Forest had fewer internet providers, the project is simply not fiscally responsible in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Sanders explains:
Taking on an installation purchase agreement to borrow $2.5 million now, with interest costs ranging from $203K to $314K depending on term lengths (7 to 10 years) would result in an additional expenditure of Town revenues during this time…
Taking on the additional budgetary expense to finance fiber infrastructure construction would provide an additional constraint just as prudent managers must already expect to make difficult budgetary choices. If such a project were necessitated by an obvious market failure, it would pose a difficult choice, but Internet service already seems well provided in Wake Forest by the private sector.