World Rep. John Curtis: Biden's broadband plan – government-run networks don't work. Here's what we learned in Utah
Progressive groups are “fed up” with Biden’s infrastructure playbook
Progressives want Biden to stop negotiating with Republicans and embrace budget reconciliation.Progressive groups, who cheered Biden passing his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus bill through Congress with only Democratic support early on, are growing increasingly frustrated over Biden’s prolonged infrastructure negotiations with Senate Republicans.
Broadband internet has become part of America’s core. It’s right to focus on it in the infrastructure debate, but ’s most recent proposal offers a misguided solution: Giving government more control.
As I can attest from my time as mayor of, this is an ineffective way to pursue the worthy goal of expanding broadband access, which is more important than ever in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The better path is to lean on the expertise and innovation of private companies.
When I served as mayor, no challenge loomed larger than Provo’s government-owned broadband network, which I inherited upon taking office. The iProvo network was established with the promise of delivering affordable high-speed internet connections to all the city’s residents.
Biden to champion democracy in first foreign trip
Joe Biden will fight what he calls a "defining" battle for democracy on his first foreign presidential trip, meeting top US allies in Europe ahead of a tricky summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin. "This is a defining question of our time," Biden wrote in The Washington Post ahead of his trip. "Will the democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century prove their capacity against modern-day threats and adversaries? I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe, we have the chance to prove it.
But the network failed to effectively reach residents across the city and created massive costs that were ultimately paid for by residents. Our local paper dubbed it a millstone around our necks. The debt we incurred to build it dictated the city’s every move.
We considered all of our options as we looked for a path forward, including letting the network go dark. My team and I ultimately decided it was in everyone’s best interest for the government to get out of the broadband business.
After reaching out to many potential buyers, we found a private company, Google Fiber, that fit the bill. It had more expertise and resources than us to make the project work; it could use its resources to upgrade and expand affordable internet services for residents. In 2013, Provo City sold iProvo to Google Fiber for $1.
Biden leaves Washington to meet allies -- then Putin
Joe Biden departs Washington early Wednesday on the first foreign trip of his presidency, launching an intense series of summits with G7, European and NATO partners before a tense face-to-face with Russia's Vladimir Putin. Biden, 78, heads from the White House first to Britain ahead of a G7 summit in a Cornish seaside resort from Friday to Sunday. From there, in rapid succession, the veteran Democrat will visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, fly to Brussels for summits with the NATO military alliance and European Union, then finish up in Geneva, where he meets Putin next Wednesday.
You read that right. We sold it for $1 because that’s how little the government-owned network was worth. Its technology was out of date and its infrastructure was unworkable.
We had to come to terms with the fact that we had a decade-old network and just like a computer that’s a decade old it was near worthless. Technology advances so quickly that what is cutting edge today may be obsolete in just a few months.
The whole experience taught me that government-owned broadband networks have serious flaws that prevent their success.
First, investing in broadband networks involves risk. Even well-financed and experienced private operators lose money. Taxpayers don’t sign up for such risk nor should taxpayer dollars be spent on such risky ventures.
Second, there is an inherent problem with the government stepping out of its core competency. There are dramatic differences between standard government functions – including streets, sewers, parks and city-owned utilities – and the highly competitive and fast-changing world of broadband deployment.
Biden to face global challenges from China, Russia as he departs for first foreign trip
President Biden is set to embark on his first trip overseas since taking office Wednesday – a trip where he will meet with G-7 and NATO allies on ways to address the coronavirus pandemic and an increasingly aggressive China and Russia. Biden is set to arrive in the United Kingdom Wednesday night. His first order of business will be a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, before joining G-7 leaders for the group's summit over the weekend.
This experience also taught me the vital lesson that the private sector is far better equipped to handle such a challenging, important and risky investment. All of this is further supported by the fact that our nation’s most successful telecommunication companies have invested over $2 trillion in these networks over the past 25 years. They clearly see the technological potential, yet keenly understand the challenges of delivering these cutting-edge services.
That’s one of the reasons why I’m so concerned about the Biden administration’s rural broadband proposal. The Biden plan would invest billions in broadband expansion while giving preferential treatment to government-owned networks. There’s no question rural broadband investment is needed in Utah and many other parts of rural America, but the Biden approach is completely misguided.
Study after study shows that government-owned networks fall short. Provo is far from the only proof. One recent study found that only 10% of such networks generated enough revenue to cover the costs of development over a 30-40 year span. Nearly 60% didn’t make enough money to cover their operating costs. Five didn’t expect to do so for 100 years. Another study, from my home state, found that such networks "result in negligible benefits for public and private users."
Unearthing Joe Biden's unsung English roots
An English link has been added to the president's famed Irish ancestry. But is it meaningful to him? © BBC An ancestral connection to US President Joe Biden has been found in southern England © BBC The year was 1820 when an English immigrant named William Biden first appeared in US records. A census listed him as a resident of Maryland, one of about 10 million people then living in the US. He was part of a growing community of immigrants who, in many cases, were lured to the country by the promise of a better life.
Given the evidence, it is inappropriate for federal broadband funding to favor government-owned networks. The White House and Congress should let states and local governments decide when and where that is the case. A better path is for Congress to streamline the regulations that stand in the way of rural broadband rollout, and I have introduced two bills to that effect.
I’m also concerned about another round of spending. Congress invested hundreds of billions of federal resources into broadband deployment over the past year, including in broadband programming for rural and underserved communities. Instead of proposing billions more, we should be concentrating on stretching the resources we allocated as far as possible.
Congress has a bipartisan track record of smart investments in rural broadband. While the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan is well-intentioned, it does not meet that standard. It spends too much money and favors the government-owned networks that are almost always a bad investment. Americans without broadband internet access – in Utah and in every state – deserve better.
Vladimir Putin Says Joe Biden is 'Intelligent, Collected, Does Not Miss a Thing' .
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave high marks for U.S. President Joe Biden after their meeting in Switzerland this week—despite their rocky relationship of the past. © PETER KLAUNZER / POOL / AFP/Getty Images US President Joe Biden (R) talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to the US-Russia summit at the Villa La Grange, in Geneva on June 16, 2021. "Biden is a professional, and you need to work very carefully with him so as not to miss something," Putin told reporters Thursday—a day after they met in the neutral site of Geneva, Russian state-owned media TASS reported.