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jayfish

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 8,745

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Who wants competition? Big cable tries outlawing municipal broadband in Kansas

Source: Ars Technica

The telco-written bill starts out pleasantly enough, saying its goal is to "Ensure that video, telecommunications, and broadband services are provided through fair competition consistent with the federal telecommunications act of 1996" to "encourage the development and widespread use of technological advances in providing video, telecommunications and broadband services at competitive rates; and ensure that video, telecommunications and broadband services are each provided within a consistent, comprehensive, and nondiscriminatory federal, state, and local government framework."

But instead of promoting development in broadband networks, the bill actually limits the possibility of them being built. Here's the key passage:

Except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not, directly or indirectly:
(1) Offer or provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications, or broadband service; or
(2) purchase, lease, construct, maintain, or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications, or broadband service to one or more subscribers.
A municipality would not be able to offer broadband "through a partnership, joint venture, or other entity in which the municipality participates," the bill says. The city or town also would not be able to use its powers of eminent domain to condemn any facility "for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications, or broadband service to one or more subscribers."

While the bill lets cities and towns offer service in "unserved areas," it defines such areas as those where at least 90 percent of households lack access to any broadband service, whether it be "fixed or mobile, or satellite broadband service" at the minimum broadband speed defined by the Federal Communications Commission, which is 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up.

Since satellite can be used pretty much anywhere at broadband speeds (but with annoying latency), it would be hard to identify any "unserved areas" as defined by this legislation. The bill does allow networks "for internal government purposes," but not for any users outside the government.

Read more: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/01/who-wants-competition-big-cable-tries-outlawing-municipal-broadband-in-kansas/



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