Barbara Esbin recently spoke at the Wireless U. Communications Policy Seminar on a panel on financing wireless broadband. Barbara's remarks specifically addressed the National Broadband Plan and the role of state governments.
In addition to presenting sensible suggestions for policymakers, including creating incentives to spur deployment and redirecting universal service funds, Barbara offered a bit of perspective on the issue of broadband deployment:
As important access to broadband Internet service is, if the choice comes down to clean water, Medicaid benefits, or bandwidth, I submit that limited government financial resources might be best directed first to clean water and health care.
This is particularly true of state or local efforts to finance a second, third or fourth provider of high speed Internet service, or to go into the bandwidth business itself. Government spending on broadband infrastructure should be directed primarily to those areas where market forces are unlikely, due to high costs and low prospect for returns, to extend network infrastructure without government assistance.
Her prepared remarks can be found here.