Could A National Broadband Policy Boost The Economy By Over $100 Billion?
from the debate-away dept
There’s been some controversy surrounding the group Connected Nation, as some have accused it of basically being a front group for AT&T — though the evidence on that front still seems a bit weak. Whether or not you believe them, the group has now released a report claiming that a more comprehensive national broadband policy would boost the economy by $134 billion. These types of studies are always a little questionable, as it’s common for the entities putting them together (who are obviously biased) to pick and choose how they count the economic impact of certain actions, playing up things that help their case and ignoring those that hurt their case. However, there is some additional evidence out there that better broadband coverage does improve the economy. In the past, we’ve pointed to a variety of municipal broadband efforts that boosted local economies in very noticeable ways. Of course, the critics of Connected Nation will quickly point out that Connected Nation’s plans for a broadband plan could actually serve to hurt those municipal providers.
At this point, I’m still rather agnostic on the issue. I agree that better broadband can help the economy, but I’m not convinced that anyone has really come up with a plan that provides that type of benefit to the entire country in a way that doesn’t have dangerous unintended consequences. In some ways, it’s similar to the debate over whether you want competition at the platform level or above it, as that would influence the decisions on how to encourage broadband. If you think it’s better to focus on competition above the platform, rather than between platforms, then a national broadband policy makes sense (in fact, you could think of it more like the highway system). If you think it’s better to have competition between platforms themselves, then a national broadband policy might not make sense. There are compelling arguments on both sides, so maybe we can hash out some thoughts in the comments.