It sure does help your cause when you can
bribe pay-off contribute money to politicians willing to help you eliminate competition. No, really, there are situations where politicians have explicitly admitted to having broadband providers (who contribute heavily to the politician) write a bill that the politician then submits for law.
This week, Marsha Blackburn (R – Brentwood) introduced legislation that would have barred the Federal Communications Commission from helping community-owned Internet service providers compete against private companies. Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved the proposal in a 223 – 200 vote.
Blackburn has received $10K from the corporate funded NCTA, $12.5K from Verizon, $10K from AT&T, $7.5K from Comcast and $7K from Time Warner cable in 2014.
Such an outcome would be a big win for the private telecom industry, which might explain Blackburn’s central role in the fight. According to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, two of Blackburn’s largest career donors are employees and PACs affiliated with AT&T ($66,750) and Comcast ($36,600). Those are two of EPB’s private-sector competitors in Chattanooga. Blackburn has also taken $56,000 from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the lobby for the big telecoms. – TechDirt
The FCC’s plan would give power back to local governments to allow them to make their own decisions about whether or not they wanted to offer municipal broadband.
“Whatever happened to localism or local control? This amendment means the federal government will tell every local citizen, mayor, and county council member that they may not act in their own best interests. Any such amendment is an attack on the rights of individual citizens speaking through their local leaders to determine if their broadband needs are being met.” – Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), TheHill
By the way, wasn’t Marsha Blackburn a supporter of SOPA? As Mike Masnick points out, funny how she loves to “regulate” areas of technology when it is in her financial interest to do so.
As has been noted by a number of sites, one of the most successful municipal broadband networks is found in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the local government offers 1 Gbps service for $70 a month (speeds that are roughly 100 times faster than the national average).
There is a reason that so many cities are now wanting to build their own municipal fiber networks. They either are being severely under-served or are not being served at all. Cities with a number of broadband providers that are serving the entire city are not trying to bring in their own municipal service. The failure of the private sector is why cities (even heavy anti-government cities) are desperate enough to build their own networks.
Have some municipal broadband networks failed? Absolutely. UTOPIA has been plagued by terrible management (and has spent millions defending pointless lawsuits by CenturyLink).
Yet, many municipal networks have been and continue to be successful and have spurned significant competition in the area. It must be purely coincidence that residents in Chattanooga have broadband options with AT&T U-Verse and Comcast and can receive speeds eight-to-ten times faster (at a significantly CHEAPER price) than those in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Does anyone want to take a guess why cities all over the country are bending over backwards doing whatever they can to get Google Fiber in their areas?