HB 13 would use targeted grants to help unserved Ohioans get broadband access

Greg R. Lawson Oct 27, 2020

This letter to the editor appeared on Cleveland.com.

An Oct. 9 op-ed (“Bill is not the answer to broadband needs”) tries to equate the good public policies in House Bill 13, which would bring broadband to unserved Ohioans, to the public corruption scandal surrounding FirstEnergy and related firms and to the power of monopolistic utilities.

Let’s be clear, the good policies in HB 13 do not empower a monopoly.

As The Buckeye Institute testified, HB 13 creates targeted grants to expand access to broadband to underserved areas of Ohio, closing the gap between what providers can cost-effectively spend to develop a network and the full cost of providing the service to underserved communities. The grants offered in HB 13 will be awarded in a transparent process open to many cable, satellite, and wireless providers across Ohio. Simply put, there is competition in the broadband space.

HB 13 further protects taxpayers by prohibiting government-owned networks from receiving taxpayer-funded grants. This, too, is good public policy. The Buckeye Institute has found that government-owned networks frequently pass along high costs to taxpayers. As tax revenues decline in the wake of COVID-19, governments should focus our taxpayer dollars on critical services such as public health and safety.

Greg R. Lawson
Greg R. Lawson is a research fellow with The Buckeye Institute.