Senator Bernie Sanders has spent his political career with a complicated relationship with monopolies. On the one hand, he sees monopolies everywhere he looks, even in industries with a lot of competition. On the other hand, his solution to solving these "monopolies" is to build a true monopoly in its place. His current pitch is against the broadband industry, claiming that "monopolies" like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon hold their customers hostage.
The pitch isn't entirely incorrect. There are parts of the country where it is not financially feasible to bring a hardline internet connection, either because it is very remote, the population is small, or a combination of the two. Because of this issue, the government has a program called the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is intended to help companies offset those costs so that everyone can have access to phone and internet service.
Despite the continued success of the USF program, Sanders believes that the government should take control of the internet, treating it like a public utility. In a tweet, Sanders said,
Just as President Roosevelt fundamentally made America more equal by bringing electricity to every community, urban and rural, over 80 years ago, as president, I will do the same with high-speed internet.
Having the government intimately involved in the power industry has guaranteed service to everyone, but it has also created nearly insurmountable challenges. As solar power has grown in popularity, power companies could not work with individuals in a meaningful way.
The difference between the power industry and the data industry is significant and important, though. Internet access can provide a lot of information about its customers - information that the government desperately wants. The NSA built an entire spy network dedicated to collecting this information without permission, or even without legal authority. However, if the government is your ISP, your consent to their data mining is required. If this pitch were to come to reality, which is less than likely, it would certainly create an even bigger need for VPN services.