New Bill Would Stop States From Banning Broadband Competition
We’ve noted for years how state legislators are so corrupt, ISP lawyers and lobbyists have long been able to literally write awful state law protecting them from competition. There’s more than 21 state laws across the country written by the likes of AT&T and Comcast that prevent towns and cities from building their own broadband networks, even if incumbent ISPs have failed to deploy adequate service. They want to have their cake and eat it too.
In many instances, these laws even ban towns and cities from striking public/private partnerships with companies like Google Fiber, often the only creative alternative available to them.
A new proposal by Senator Anna Eshoo would prohibit states from making their own decisions on local broadband infrastructure and how best to spend their money.
The Community Broadband Act (HR 4814) declares that no state may pass legislation that would “prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting any public provider from providing, to any person or any public or private entity, advanced telecommunications capability or any service that utilizes the advanced telecommunications capability provided by such provider.” In pushing the legislation, Eshoo cited a recent study highlighting how community-based ISPs traditionally offer dramatically cheaper service, as much as 50% less than private ISPs. That study found that community-run ISPs also tend to be far more forthcoming on pricing, and far less reliant on hidden fees used to jack up the advertised rate post sale.
“Broadband Internet is the most vital tool of the 21st Century economy,” Eshoo said in a statement. “Unfortunately, millions of Americans are still acutely impacted by a complete lack of or an inferior broadband connection. The Community Broadband Act is an important step in bridging the digital divide and will help local governments enable connectivity, increase economic growth and create jobs.” Unfortunately, the bill has little hope of running a Congressional gauntlet where blind fealty to incumbent ISPs is the rule, not the exception.
Eshoo and others have pushed this legislation several times in the past, only to have it stall in committee. Efforts at the FCC to stop states from rubber stamping these anti-competitive laws were also struck down by the courts. Like net neutrality, retaining the right to build your own broadband network without Comcast interference has broad, bipartisan support.
ISPs could of course nip these efforts in the bud by offering cheaper, faster broadband and better customer service, but thanks to government corruption they’ve traditionally found it much easier to buy protectionist state law instead.
That’s not likely to change until the public wakes up and begins voting out lawmakers whose fealty to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast routinely and repeatedly runs roughshod over public welfare.
- ^ 21 state laws (muninetworks.org)
- ^ HR 4814 (www.congress.gov)
- ^ recent study (www.dslreports.com)
- ^ statement (eshoo.house.gov)
- ^ struck down by the courts (arstechnica.com)