Broadband Access, Free Markets and Government Intervention

In Tennessee, access to the Internet can be slow and unreliable the further you get away from the cities. The result is missed opportunities in education, healthcare, and business meaning rural residents are at a competitive disadvantage to their counterparts in cities (10 Ways Broadband Benefits Rural Communities).

When the Internet was introduced to a wide spread consumer base in the late 1990s, it was termed the information super highway. Anyone could access any information from anywhere. It revolutionized the way business was conducted through the rise of online retailers, and it changed how individuals did research for school, work and everyday life. But like the interstate highway system, it took time to build out a network that connects every community in the county. Thanks to the development of wireless technology, access to the Internet was spread further and faster, filling in the gaps where wired access hadn’t made it yet. But now, the information super highway “is not able to accommodate the traffic and needs an upgrade,” says Bruce Mehlman of the Internet Innovation Alliance.

With ever increasing demand for information we need to continue to upgrade and improve the digital infrastructure so that all Tennesseans can have access to the benefits of broadband. One way to ensure the timely and efficient deployment of the next generation of wireless Internet is through the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile which will bring 4G LTE coverage to more than 97 percent of Americans. Fred Congdon, executive director of the Tennessee Association of County Mayors, likened the merger to the “creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, both for its ability to stimulate job growth and spur economic activity.” In these hard economic times, this type of private investment is exactly what Tennessee and the U.S. need to get back on track.

Faster and more reliable broadband internet access means businesses and individuals can stay competitive in today’s global, digital economy. Whether using a laptop, smartphone or tablet, the ability to access information over a 4G LTE wireless network will mean more innovation and greater economic development for Tennessee and the U.S. But without this new generation of broadband access, we risk losing our place as the largest and most innovative economy in the world which is why universal broadband access must be priority one.

Of course, since the current Administration is ruled by the “No good deed goes unpunished!” strategy, this sort of Free Market innovation is exactly what the government will file lawsuits to prevent. Green jobs that don’t exist and which cost millions of taxpayer dollars are just fine. But Free Market innovation and cooperation must not be allowed to flourish. Government intervention is turning the Information Superhighway into yet another road to serfdom. Please, someone wake me up. I must be dreaming …