JB: The people who make policy decisions, the lawmakers, they are on the same Internet that their constituents use, don’t they see limited connection as a problem?
AH: They do see it as a problem but they don’t think that having the government provide the broadband is the best way.
What’s also influencing that decision is the amount of money that’s flowing.
For example just at the national level there was $88 million spent last year on lobbying by the telecom industry and since 1996 the telecom industry has spent $167 million in giving to campaign donations.
Now these lawmakers have told us, of course that doesn’t influence the way they vote.
But we asked a number of lawmakers about taking money, and about why they have the positions that they do.
And one of those people was Glen Casada, he’s the third in line in the leadership in the Republican party in Tennessee, and he’s been involved in helping derail some of the bills that have been introduced that would allow expansion of broadband.
This is what he told us:
“My district is about 2/3 high-speed and 1/3 non-high-speed. So I do hear a lot of that, and I talk to several of those providers: ‘we need help, what’s the solution?’ and their retort is, ‘Well, we can’t afford to go to the southeast corner of your county because we would lose money and lose money hand over fist.’
And I said, ‘We’ve got to figure this out, and real quick, because if we don’t figure it out, then we’re going to have to go with a solution that may not be palatable to the free market system.’
So there is an answer, I contend we have to work it out and figure it out so that the free market solves it, because if a government-run entity solves it, it’s got long-term negative implications.”