FACTS ABOUT GON’s:
Cumberland and Salem counties are considering building a $30 million network that would require at least $9 million from county taxpayers. The so-called “middle mile network” wouldn’t connect a single home or business.
No internet service provider has supported this proposal or agreed to partner with the county to make use of the network. The only potential partner is the City of Vineland, which would need to spend tens of millions to build a new city-owned network that connects to the counties’ network.
Cumberland County has a poor track record of managing its services, especially in recent years.
While Cumberland County considers a “network to nowhere,” the City of Vineland is exploring whether or not to borrow tens of millions for a city-run broadband network. The city is not in a position to expend such a large amount of money to finance a network, and neither are the city’s working families.
GONs have a high rate of failure. A 2022 University of Pennsylvania study found that nearly 90% of GONs are financial failures. This either results in the network receiving continuous bailouts from taxpayers, or the network being sold off to a private company. In one example, the City of Provo, Utah spent $39 million to construct a city- network and, after failing to generate any revenue, they sold it for $1—leaving taxpayers with the debt.
The City of Vineland is in no financial position to undertake such a project when it is facing multiple financial challenges – like a surprise $5 million cost overrun on to its $17 million fire station replacement project—or its residents facing an average $4,800 increase in property taxes to cover pension contributions.
Providing broadband service would be far more complicated than any of the services it manages now. Unlike traditional utilities like sewer, water, and electricity which generally require static maintenance cost, broadband is dynamic and requires constant upgrades and improvement to meet ever growing demands for more data.