“Overwhelmingly, these government-owned and taxpayer-funded networks leave budgets in the red due to underestimated buildout costs, subscriber rates falling far short of projections, and issued bonds straining local budgets for years to come,” the website says.
Some choice examples:
Sun Prairie Utilities in Wisconsin is shackled with more than $9.3 million in debt, which isn’t likely to be paid off soon because it has only 200 customers. The website notes that the network, in operation for 17 years, owes $46,623 per customer before construction costs are paid off.
Orangeburg Broadband in South Carolina isn’t doing much better — just 300 subscribers, although Orangeburg County has more than 92,000 residents. Although the network received $14 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture it’s, still saddled with more than $4.6 million in debt.
AccessEagan in Eagan, Minnesota, started as a relative bargain compared with most networks, with $1.5 million in taxpayer funds allocated to initial construction costs. But expansions and increased operational costs have grown that number — the network is now nearly $7.4 million in debt.