Is Anti-Municipal Broadband Report Astroturf?
Glenn Fleishman writes “A report issued today by the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) and The Heartland Institute says that municipalities shouldn’t build wireless networks because it’s anti-competitive and will waste taxypayer dollars. The report has some interesting points (mostly about building fiber networks), but eWeek (second page) uncovered that NMRC is a subsidiary of Issue Dynamics, which is a lobbying firm that represents most US telcos and cable operators. It’s astroturf. The Heartland Institute won’t reveal its funders. I wrote a long account trying to track down the connections between the sock puppets involved in publicizing the report.”
From the cited eWeek article:
But I’m also reminded of stadium projects (Baltimore and Indianapolis come to mind) where the results were not abysmal. So, you do have to wonder if the NMRC’s report is really serious analysis, or just a case of selective examples that support a conclusion someone might have wanted to put forth.
Who might that someone be? NMRC is a subsidiary of Issue Dynamics Inc. (IDI), which the Center for Media and Democracy describes as “a Washington-based consulting firm that organizes PR campaigns on behalf of clients.”
[...] The NMRC made a point to say that none of the researchers who participated received any money from NMRC. But in case you’re wondering who’s paying the bills at IDI, take a look at its client list. If you don’t want to read the whole huge thing, let me summarize those of interest in this issue: Ameritech, Bell South, Comcast, Pacific Bell, Qwest, SBC Communications, Sprint, U.S. West, Verizon and Verizon Wireless.
These companies favor state legislation prohibiting municipal broadband (including Wi-Fi) projects or giving incumbent carriers veto power over them, such as Pennsylvania did.