On the right lane: Not so broad broadband

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“Companies that banked their futures on broadband – most of them are not very successful.” Jerry Yang, Yahoo co-founder and former CEO

They came, they spoke and they did not conquer. If there ever was a Windham Town Council meeting, in this case a workshop, where I witnessed seven town councilors agree, it definitely happened June 5 when they discussed internet broadband service provided by, I have to guess, government. (At the same time, I have to state that it was probably the worst ever presentation of trying to sell an idea. The presenters were a couple of officials from Cumberland County and the director of the Windham Economic Development Corporation. I have to believe that the councilors were talked down to during that presentation which probably cemented negative thoughts in their heads.)

Make no mistake about it, my belief is that government should not enter into anything that private business can accomplish by itself. Whether it’s disposing of our trash or providing us internet service, I have no doubt that a private business can not only do it better, it can also do it cheaper. Unfortunately for taxpayers all across this nation, if a government program does not function up to speed, the only answer for government officials is to either end the program or pour more tax dollars into it. Unfortunately once again, they usually pour more taxpayer dollars into a program and watch it fail again.

What I hate ever more is when a government or even semi-government entity, let’s say Ecomaine, has no problem stating that it would like to put a private business out of business. If I understood what was said when the head, I guess, of Ecomaine spoke to Windham town councilors lately, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if private trash haulers were put out of business. I have no problem saying it’s time for Ecomaine to go. But I have diverged, so it’s time to bounce back to broadband.

I won’t go into lengthy detail about what was presented that night; if one cares to know they can either watch reruns on Windham’s Channel 7 or go to Windham’s website. What I will say is that as the presentation went on, the presenters only dug a deeper hole for themselves.

Like I stated, I am definitely against government duplicating the services provided by private companies, especially since government will once again waste taxpayer dollars. It’s not that I have the highest regard for the cable company providing service to Windham, and I know for a fact many others feel the same. But I also feel government would more than likely provide far less than what is provided now. For example, if the map showing where fiber optic cable is is correct, why haven’t many connections been made to it? One councilor even questioned why the WEDC director was talking about connecting to residential properties when his business is about businesses. At this point I will add that I believe the North Windham business area isn’t even close to realizing its full economic potential and at the present rate, never will.

What bothers me and obviously bothered some of the town councilors was the fact that some figures were totally outdated. One councilor brought up an excellent point that the internet and even the technology behind it is constantly changing and using something five years old or even older isn’t even close to being the best thing to be talking about in today’s world. The presenters seemed totally clueless about financial figures except for wanting to spend taxpayer dollars on something they seemed to be clueless about.

What makes me happy is that I witnessed the Windham town councilors do something in unison. It shows that they can have intelligent conversations about a subject like broadband internet. I had better watch out, pretty soon I might not have a reason to write any more.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham believes all one has to do is look at the Cumberland County Civic Center to see how good county government can run a business.

Hiltunen