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NTU Urges Granite State Lawmakers to Reject Government Broadband Expansion

by Clark Packard / /

To the Members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives,

On behalf of National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU) Granite State members, I strongly encourage you to reject HB 1180 by voting to adopt the Municipal and County Government Committee’s report of “Inexpedient to legislate.” The bill is entirely unnecessary and would result in government tilting the playing field away from the private broadband market. Simply put, HB 1180 would be a bad deal for taxpayers in New Hampshire.

Current New Hampshire law allows local governments and municipalities to issue bonds to provide broadband technology and infrastructure to unserved residents. If enacted, HB 1180 would set a dangerous precedent by allowing Granite State municipal governments to issue bonds to create broadband infrastructure in areas already served by private broadband providers.

According to a recent report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the percentage of households unserved by broadband in the Granite State declined from 17 percent to just seven percent between 2014 and 2015. Such year over year change is quite dramatic and clearly illustrates the expanding nature of New Hampshire’s private broadband market.  It is estimated that only six states have a smaller percentage of their rural population unserved by high speed broadband.

Not only that, the FCC, through the Connect America Fund, will provide $25 million over the next six years to Fairpoint Communications in order to further bolster broadband networks in New Hampshire. It is estimated that these efforts will expand broadband access to 13,000 homes and businesses in the state.  

As recent FCC studies confirm, the private broadband market in New Hampshire is highly competitive and rapidly expanding. As a result, it has largely produced good quality service at affordable rates.  When government competes with the private sector, taxpayers are usually stuck with the tab. The broadband infrastructure created pursuant HB 1180 would be no different. Allowing municipalities to further indebt themselves for no valid purpose is not sound public policy. Accordingly, NTU encourages you to vote “Yes” to adopt the committee’s report of “Inexpedient to legislate,” which will kill  this ill-conceived bill. The legislature should instead look for opportunities to remove government barriers that hinder private broadband innovation and deployment.

Sincerely,

Clark Packard
Policy and Government Affairs Manager