America Needs More Fiber

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[Commentary] The solution to the country’s digital divide isn’t going to come from private-market competition, but rather from massive government mobilization. Just don’t call it “nationalization.”

We should be driving forward upgrades to fiber optic networks running right to to homes and businesses, by lowering the barriers to fund shared fiber networks everywhere. We could be facilitating increased use of bonds, local financing, and tax breaks, and reducing the risks of investments and the costs of capital by issuing government guarantees, all aimed at attracting private investment in the shared fiber optic lines needed for 5G to function. The resulting basic networks could be shared by a multitude of private companies, for 5G purposes and wired connections as well. The resulting competition would drive down prices charged to the rest of us. The networks would be overseen or owned outright, where appropriate, by government. That's not "nationalization." It's common sense—in the same way that government responsibility for an extensive system of roads is common sense. It's an unleashing of the private market through harnessing private and public investment in the service of competitive, ubiquitous network coverage.

[Susan Crawford is a professor at Havard Law School]


America Needs More Fiber