No matter how interesting or promising a technology developed in New Mexico may be, it seems that government inevitably gets involved and mucks things up. Take Sceye.
The idea behind the company which is Swiss, but with major operations here in New Mexico, is to provide Internet and other services to remote locations using dirigibles or blimps. That’s a fine idea and I’d love to see it taken from concept to application (without fleecing New Mexico taxpayers).
But, in her bid to deploy broadband across New Mexico, Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Democrat-controlled Legislature are spending an astonishing $70 million for just five blimps. Mind you this is an unproven technology as the company JUST performed its first and only test flight in October of 2021. New Mexico ALSO gave the company $3.2 million to study the concept of dirigible-based Internet service in April of 2021, so the company is cashing a lot of checks from the State.
While Sceye is hardly the only entity working on deploying Internet service to far-flung rural areas (Elon Musk’s Starlink system is one big competitor), it is difficult to see New Mexico’s massive “investment” as cost-effective. According to Rio Grande Foundation calculations, $70 million would get 2,500 miles of deployed broadband (without the risk of investing tax dollars in an unproven technology) thus offering broadband to many rural providers for whom access is unavailable. Furthermore, based on the $1 billion hybrid model (fiber/fixed wireless) to the “un-served” areas of New Mexico in which such Internet service is unavailable, spending on Sceye comes out to $8,000 per-person.
That’s an expensive way for New Mexico to deploy broadband service!