Debating Jim Baller

Published August 1, 2005

The Heartland Institute, publisher of IT&T News, has published two policy studies critical of municipal broadband: Municipally Owned Broadband Networks: A Critical Evaluation (Revised Edition), Heartland Policy Study #105, October 2004, by Joseph Bast; and Municipal Broadband: Optimistic Plan, Disappointing Reality, Heartland Policy Study #108, June 2005, by Steven Titch. Both studies are available on Heartland’s Web site at (Click “Policy Studies” on the home page.)

The studies provoked long rebuttals by James Baller, an attorney for the American Public Power Association. Baller’s criticisms are posted on his Web site at

Bast and Titch have each replied to Baller with essays of their own, both released in June, and both available on Heartland’s Web site. (Click on the PolicyBot™ button and choose the “Telecom” topic and “Broadband: Municipal” subtopic.)

Bast ends his rebuttal as follows:

“James Baller devotes many words to attacking The Heartland Institute and this study, but he doesn’t identify a single factual error in the study or persuade me to offer a single amendment or retraction. His judgement in this debate is suspect because he doesn’t understand the economics of the broadband industry and is not familiar with the literature concerning private versus public provision of services.”