The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) joined the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and 21 other groups in signing a letter opposing the BRIDGE Act, which was introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Angus King (I-ME).
The BRIDGE Act would increase the role the federal government plays in deploying broadband technology, while also limiting the constitutionally delegated power of the states.
While the intent to deliver high speed service to unserved areas to close the digital divide is a noble one, the BRIDGE Act would fail to meet even that need. The bill only actually mandates 50 percent of its disbursements be used for unserved areas. The rest is designated for areas that might have high speed internet, but whose upload and download speeds aren’t symmetrical. To give any sort of priority to these areas over the unserved ones is a gross oversight and will leave in place the same inequalities that already existed.
The bill will also create confusion for private networks that are not run by the government at the municipal level. It requires a standard of speed for all new networks, but allows states to put requirements on top of it. This will create a patchwork of regulations that will be impossible to comply with in any affordable manner. The irony is that the BRIDGE Act allows states to regulate national networks, but prohibits them from setting reasonable guidelines when it comes to networks built exclusively within their borders.
Other signatories to the letter include Americans for Tax Reform, Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks, and National Taxpayers Union, among others.
CEI research fellow Ryan Nabil said:
“Recent increases in broadband investment and improvements in Internet connectivity suggest that Internet access can be greatly expanded without wasteful subsidies and government interference. Instead of providing wasteful subsidies and imposing cumbersome regulations on internet providers, lawmakers should remove regulatory barriers that discourage private companies from investing in broadband networks and improving Internet speed.”
Nabil for Real Clear Policy: How to Expand Broadband Access Without Spending $100 Billion