This informed letter is referring to the study on Broadband solicited by the Custer County Economic Development Corp (CCEDC). They have linked the report and the you can see the report at the link below;
Letter to Editor;
I have repeatedly tried to write an analysis of the Custer County Economic Development Corporation’s Phase 2 and Phase 3 documents that were recently released. The documents were prepared by CenterLine Solutions for the CCEDC. All of this is paid for by you, the taxpayer. And because of that, I feel like you should know how your money is being spent and because I know a little about the subject, I feel like you shouldn’t be led down the primrose path.
For the last couple years, the Custer County Economic Development Corporation has been talking about increasing the broadband availability in the county. Their Phase 2 and Phase 3 documents were recently released. And since the CCEDC’s plans for broadband will be partially paid for by the taxpayers of Custer County, I feel that it’s important to understand what they’re up to.
First of all, we need to understand that the CCEDC and their friends on the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) want to create a public utility (think phone company or electric company – one that has a monopoly and can charge whatever they want.) It will probably be run by the CCEDC which could make a lot of money on the deal, whose principals stand to make lots of money on the deal.
The CCEDC spent $34K on these reports and is flashing them all over the county. The documents are available online and you should check them and not just take my word for it. Fair warning – their math is so unreliable it makes evaluating these documents nearly impossible.
Let’s start with the Phase 2 document. Table 2 says that there are currently 9,328 addresses served by broadband but it also says that there are only 6,553 addresses in the county. According to the Assessor’s Office, though, there are 9,122 parcels county-wide. Head-scratching. . . (The number 9,328 is calculated by adding the column in Table 2.)
If you add the column that lists the percentage served by each existing tower, you come up with 142.35%. You would think that these numbers by themselves would have been enough to put an end to the boondoggle being pitched by the CCEDC. But, no, they either also can’t do such complex math as addition or they don’t care, they just want more money and power.
Municipal broadband is a colossal failure across the nation and just this simple math problem shows you why. If you look at the tables on pages 6, 7 and 8 of the Phase 2 document, you see this scenario played out in every table. And the bottom line of all of this is that if millions of tax dollars are spent on building sixmore towers, 870 more addresses will have access to broadband. Access – Not Service. Those 870 more addresses will have to pay for service – just like we all do and those services will be subsidized by additional tax money. Then many more millions of tax dollars can be pocketed by those running the utility.
And who are those people who will profit? It’s probably wrong to paint every supporter with this brush but the CCEDC members that I know about are Charles Bogle, Dale Mullen and Wilson Jarvis and they have already approached the towns and the county trying to get tax dollars to fund this fraud. And why is Commissioner Kattnig such a big supporter? And why does he get so mad when I refer to this as socialized broadband? I wouldn’t expect someone who has fed at the public trough almost his whole life to understand, but the legitimate role of government is not competing with private enterprise and using tax dollars to have an unfair advantage.
We currently have two wireless providers as well as a hard line provider (let’s ignore existing satellite). Much of the county has access to broadband with today’s technology. And that all improves dramatically in the near future. What is on the horizon that will make anything the CCEDC can scheme completely
Before looking into the immediate future it is important to remember that both existing providers will add towers and improve the technology as the fiscal incentive merits. Before 2020, less than three years, 5G will deliver gigabit Internet everywhere and really, the theoretical speed could be 10 gigabits per second compared to 4G which is about 100 Megabits per second. Much, much faster. Then there’s the satellite race. Big names like Boeing, Elon Musk, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX among others are launching satellites that will provide Terabit Internet. And this access will be every place on the planet that can see a piece of sky. Even the most remote places on earth will have this access. Google and Facebook have their own proposed solutions which involve covering the whole planet as well. As we have repeatedly seen, the competition will expand the quality and services while driving down prices. Without wasting tax dollars.
Why? Because the Free Market always, always does better than central government control. As technology improves, more and more people depend on that technology. That’s right Kommisar Kattnig, the unleashed productivity of the market does much better than command and control bureaucrats will ever do.
First, I’m astounded that the CCEDC spent $34,694 taxpayer dollars (grants don’t come from nowhere folks) with a firm that can’t get the math correct. Apparently, Centerline Solutions can’t even get the name of the company who hired them correct. Their study documents all refer to the Custer County Economic Development Board instead of corporation. Maybe the contractor thinks they’re working for a government agency instead of a private business.
Second, I’m flabbergasted that the CCEDC thinks the voters of Custer County are stupid enough to pay millions in new taxes so that a few more people will have access to Internet. Internet is a product, not a right. But, maybe, just maybe, the CCEDC has worked it all out with the sitting Commissioners and there won’t be a need for a silly vote.
Lastly, I’m dumbfounded that, in this day and age when the evidence of colossal failures of municipal Internet ventures is so readily available, any sane person would propose creating another municipal Internet venture.
Unless there’s big money for someone. And as always, follow the money. Who will benefit?
Rural Custer County