Out of Control Policy Blog

Municipal Broadband: iProvo's Losses Near $10 Million

iProvo has already posted over $8 million in losses according to a new Reason Foundation policy brief that concludes that Provo is destined to join a list of cities like Ashland, Oregon, and Marietta, Georgia, that have "thrown away millions of dollars on broadband projects that, in the end, failed to deliver any of the promised benefits."

iProvo's total losses are likely to exceed $10 million by the end of this fiscal year – and that figure doesn't include the $39.5 million borrowed to launch the project, most of which still needs to be paid back. The Reason Foundation report says Provo "faces the dilemma of continuing to fund iProvo with no break-even point in sight, or it can sell and recoup as much of its investment as it can."

"Provo's taxpayers are being fleeced," said Steven Titch, policy analyst at Reason Foundation and author of two reports on iProvo. "The only question is how much of this fiscal recklessness they are willing to take before saying 'enough.'"

In 2003, iProvo lost $1.3 million in taxpayer money. It posted a $1.4 million loss in 2004, a $1.6 million loss in 2005, another $1.9 million loss in 2006, and in 2007 iProvo was over $2 million in the red. That's over $8 million in losses, and things don't look much better for 2008. In January, iProvo posted a net-gain of just 29 subscribers and could be headed for over $2 million in losses again this year.

Full Policy Brief (.pdf)
Reason Foundation's Municipal Broadband Research and Commentary

From the archives:
Jerry Ellig, former deputy director of the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Policy Planning, wrote a 2006 Reason Foundation study that concludes cities shouldn't fool themselves into believing that their experience running water, gas and electricity systems has prepared them for the fast moving Internet world. The full study, A Dynamic Perspective on Government Broadband Initiatives, is here (.pdf).

Chris Mitchell is Director of Communications/Media Contact


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