This filmmaker’s lens is blocked as she ignores the resources invested by telecommunications giants in Kentucky during recent years.
AT&T invested more than $600 million in Kentucky between 2009 and 2011 alone to improve Internet accessibility and coverage. The company activated 45 new cell phone towers, fastened connection speeds and added capacity to their networks.
And that doesn’t include the investments made by other telecom giants like Verizon and Cincinnati Bell.
These investments were not made by government. Yet where would Kentuckians be without them?
Just since 2000, Kentuckians have gone from having cell phones limited to verbal conversations and slow, dial-up Internet connections – with no connection at all in many parts of the commonwealth – to cell phones that transmit emails and photographs and provide live streaming videos.
Such progress occurred in spite of a being in a state where government regulations, taxes and bureaucracies stifle the very innovation needed to improve wireless services and bring down prices.
Still, Pickering proposes creating a whole new costly bureaucracy in Frankfort to “organize its efforts to improve broadband investments, infrastructure, and deployment.”
She also wants the state to provide handouts to businesses “that invest in broadband and deployment as well as families who need help paying for broadband services.”
But look at all of the progress that has been made in getting every part of Kentucky onto the information superhighway without Pickering’s big-government approach.
Other states’ experiences suggest governments are incapable of running their own wireless networks while excluding private enterprise. At least two municipal systems in Utah and Connecticut were sold for $1 after taxpayers invested $36 million into them.
What’s actually needed is fewer regulations and elimination of outdated policies hampering the marketplace by, for example, forcing private telecom companies to invest in outdated copper landlines.
Pickering, not surprisingly, resists such ideas. The pope might, too. But I bet the Wise Men would agree.