Op-ed: Kansans don’t need government to expand broadband Internet access

A guest op-ed, from a reader:

President Obama is coming to save us! Through his wonderful largess of stimulus money, he is going to deliver on his goal of greater broadband access to all Americans; in fact Kansas has already received at least $4.4 million to help get the job done. Wonderful.

Mind you, increasing broadband access is a good thing.  Like many Kansas, especially those in rural areas, I’ve come to depend on it. The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) has published a list of ten ways that broadband is good for rural America, most of which are centered around commerce and education.  However, increased broadband would also improve emergency response in rural areas, a need Kansans are all too familiar with.

The issue is not whether Kansas needs better broadband access.  The issue is whether we need the government to give it to us. We don’t.  While federal, state and local agencies may love spending taxpayers dollars, in this case it is probably wholly unnecessary. Private corporations may take care of that need for us, if the government would just get out of the way. Specifically, a proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile may free up enough broadband to meet the President’s lofty goals without any stimulus money. The Congress and federal agencies need only approve the merger.

Grover Norquist, who leads the conservative organization Americans for Tax Reform, harkens back to our greatest president when he writes,

Reagan’s ending of the AT&T monopoly was about deregulation and freeing markets – not more regulation or preventing companies in a free market from merging.  Yet, more government interference is exactly what [AT&T]  merger opponents are calling for, expressing concerns of fewer players and market concentration.  This is a myopic view of competition.

Kansans understand the benefits of free markets, and we want the benefits of increased wireless and broadband internet access. The AT&T merger gives us a rare opportunity to promote both while saving taxpayer money.

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