CCAGW Urges Massachusetts Joint Revenue Committee to Oppose HB 4178 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Urges Massachusetts Joint Revenue Committee to Oppose HB 4178

State Action

January 24, 2022

Massachusetts Joint Committee on Revenue
Massachusetts Capitol
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Legislator,

We understand that you will soon consider HB 4178, a bill to establish a Municipal Broadband Development Fund.  On behalf of the 32,645 members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste in Massachusetts, I urge you to oppose this bill.

The proposed Municipal Broadband Development Fund increases the risk of overbuilding broadband networks in communities that already have broadband access.  It would also redirect funding from areas where help is truly needed to bridge the digital divide.  

As noted in the May 2021 report, “The Folly of Government-Owned Networks,” government-owned broadband networks do more harm than good.  They “have proven to be costly, unsustainable, and anticompetitive” and “divert taxpayer resources from higher priorities and fail to solve connectivity issues.”  Moreover, these networks have been unsustainable.

HB 4178 imposes a one-size-fits-all mandate for access to grants from the proposed fund by “excluding dial-up internet access service or cellular, satellite or radio provided internet service.”  These restrictions would inhibit broadband deployment in regions of the Commonwealth where fiber-to-the-home capabilities are limited due to topographical or other physical barriers to installing fiber exists.  All legislation related to broadband development should be vendor and technology neutral.

Further, the bill’s requirements that recipients abide by net neutrality standards is unnecessary.  They will increase costs and reduce innovation.  The legislation should instead focus on removing barriers to deployment like long application wait times, high pole attachment fees, and right of way use restrictions.  With these barriers removed, service providers can increase their ability to effectively and efficiently provide affordable broadband to the unserved and underserved residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

For these reasons, I urge you to vote against HB 4178.

Sincerely,
Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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