After reading Charlie Oakes' recent forum "High-speed Internet infrastructure already available on Coast" (March 6), it's clear state lawmakers should reserve the BP settlement money Mississippi received for purposes other than building a government-owned broadband network.
Oakes is right that Gulf Coast consumers who want broadband can get it from the private sector. If the government has "tens of millions" of dollars to spend, I hope they would spend it on a service the private sector doesn't provide. How about investing that money in our roads and waterways or in retraining programs for residents who can't find jobs?
To help more Mississippians find jobs, our state and local leaders must partner with the private sector, not compete against it, which is what a state broadband network might lead to.
According to Oakes, the "tens of millions" of dollars it will take to build this network doesn't include the yearly cost of maintaining and upgrading it. Oakes says his company plans to spend $18 million on upgrades this year. Where is the state going to get the money for annual upgrades to its network? From our schools?
Oakes raises some very good points, and state and local leaders should listen to him. Let's spend our BP money on something else.