by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
The John Locke Foundation is continuing to start important conversations in North Carolina. In April of this year, The Wilson Times published an opinion piece written by JLF’s Jon Sanders on why local governments should not enter the broadband business. His piece highlighted many different policy solutions to promote the private expansion of broadband services without government control. It cited many examples of public broadband failures in the state, writing:
By 2011, Wilson was borrowing from its municipal electric and gas funds to make up for an over $11 million shortfall in its Greenlight network. Mooresville and Davidson’s MI-Connection had posted consecutive losses of $5.6 million, $6.8 million, and $6.4 million. Salisbury was borrowing millions of dollars from its water and sewer fund to support its Fibrant network, saw its bond rating downgraded, and last year easily passed a voter resolution to lease the network.
Since then, his piece has sparked conversations and influenced the debate North Carolinians are having about this topic. Just a few days later, The Wilson Times published a letter-to-the-editor replying to Sanders’ article. The letter pushed back on the private market solutions Sanders proposed, instead favoring public-private partnerships, claiming:
Without these partnerships, rural North Carolina will have to wait even longer for modern Internet access.
And recently, The Wilson Times reported Sanders’ piece was discussed among Wilson City Council members during their budget work session. In the story, City Manager Grant Goings claimed that, despite the over $11 million shortfall in its public Greenlight broadband network, Goings considers the project a win. The article reads:
While other municipal-run broadband services have not done well, [City Manager Grant Goings] said Greenlight is a success story.
Read Sanders’ full commentary and analysis here. The John Locke Foundation is committed to advancing conversation in North Carolina about the things that matter most. Learn more about the important issues facing North Carolina here.