Morning Consult - August 24, 2017
Written by Mariam Baksh
Christopher Mitchell weighed in on the value of the bill Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced in the Senate to channel millions into grants to build out broadband infrastructure for Mariam Baksh’s Morning Consult article.
Christopher Mitchell, who directs the broadband program at the Institute for Local Self Reliance, disagrees. He pointed to what he says is a lack of interest on the part of for-profit companies in sparsely populated areas that don’t promise a return on their investment.
“Tax credits won’t make a dent in anything but state and federal budgets” he said in an email Wednesday. “Building infrastructure in rural areas usually requires a non-profit business plan. That is why government builds roads, co-ops offer electricity, etc. Tax credits don’t help the entities most likely to build good networks in rural areas.”
Mitchell called Capito’s bill from May, which would expand USDA authority to provide loans and grants in rural areas, “a good start.”
“Electric co-ops are the single greatest hope we have to expand high quality internet access across rural areas,” he said.