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Kansas Delays Municipal Broadband Ban 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the hold-up-cowboy dept.
Mokurai writes with an update to a story from last week about legislation in Kansas that would have banned most municipal broadband, including the expansion of Google Fiber. Now, after the public backlash that erupted online, government officials have postponed the legislation's hearings, putting it on hold indefinitely. From the article: "Senate Bill 304 would prohibit cities and counties from building public broadband networks. The Commerce Committee, which [Sen. Julia Lynn] chairs, was scheduled to have a hearing Tuesday, but Lynn released a statement that hearings have been postponed indefinitely. 'Based on the concerns I heard last week, I visited with industry representatives and they have agreed to spend some time gathering input before we move forward with a public hearing,' Lynn said in a statement. 'We'll revisit the topic when some of these initial concerns have been addressed.' Lynn elaborated while exiting a Senate Judiciary hearing. The senator said she has instructed 'the parties' involved with the bill to address the public’s concerns. The bill was introduced by John Federico, a cable industry lobbyist."
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Kansas Delays Municipal Broadband Ban

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  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @04:54PM (#46154443)

    Comcast_blackhat_01: "They've got a better product, we'd better lobby to have them kept out for no reason. We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Harrumph! Harrumph!"

  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Art Challenor (2621733) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @04:57PM (#46154495)

    'We'll revisit the topic when some of these initial concerns have been addressed.'

    We're going to keep introducing this legislation until people stop watching and we can pass it (see also SOPA).

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:06PM (#46154595) Homepage Journal
    Say what you will, but Comcast is the only broadband provider in some of my very urban-one-of-the-largest-cities-in-the-US area. Not the suburbs, but minutes from downtown. Verizon is building huge in the area, but not everywhere. ATT is building huge in the area, but not everywhere. So there is clear oppotunity for a third party to come in and compete and acutaly make life better for many people. To provide a broadband service for those who really don't have it. But what did Google decide to do? Go to another city who was 100% wired with multiple vendors almost everywhere. This is why I do not believe google fiber is the answer. They are not going into dense cities who are underserved. They are going into over served areas and trying to take the low hanging fruit. They are not creating markets and demand and new users. They are taking customers who already have service. Which is fine. But this is no way a moral fight. It is no way an underdog trying to save us from the oppressors. It is powerful company saying we are going to undercut other companies so that we can be a monopoly and set prices as we wish with no transparency, just as they do in ads.
  • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:06PM (#46154597)

    No one votes on issues anymore. Everyone has been conditioned to vote based on identity politics.

    const "I am a (voting_block_01), therefore, I vote for (party_01)."

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:10PM (#46154669)

    And the cable companies will keep trying to buy politicians so that they can get this passed.

    Fuck them.

    Instead, get a law passed that allows the government to install the pipes and allow the homeowners to choose between ISPs that have leased those pipes from the local government.

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:10PM (#46154677)
    The sooner these bastards get labeled common carriers the better.
  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:13PM (#46154715)

    Did they pass SOPA when I wasn't looking?

    They "distilled" it into TPP [wikipedia.org].
    In a sudden burst of common sense, seems that that (the/some/idnk-what-percentage) Dems are opposing Obama on this one.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:30PM (#46154997)

    Except, by delaying, any planned projects will be rushed through to completion, and once cities and counties start putting in fiber and public wifi that cat's out of the bag.

    The summary is a bit misleading, because this would not have blocked Google Fiber. It might have blocked Google supplying an upstream to municipal fiber at a very cheap rate, but even that isn't clear. Once the infrastructure is in place at public expense, its pretty hard mandate its sale or destruction or abandonment. Every city would have grounds to sue.

    Cities provide water, sewer, roads, fire protection, and police. In some places, you will find examples of each such service being provided by private industry. Sometimes under contract, rarely in competition. There is scarcely room for competing roads, sewer, or water. Those are things that are natural monopolies.

    I've got no problem if a city wants to provide municipal fiber, but I do have a problem when doing so blocks competition or decides what content may be carried.

    Municipal fiber, like municipal roads and water, must serve all comers, and must collect revenue from all users via one means or another. (Most people realize that municipal fiber will either become the tragedy of the commons OR it will have to charge competitive rates just to maintain the plant.) Content provision should never be regulated by municipalities. (Too much risk of "won't somebody think of the children" demanding censorship).

    Municipal fiber, done right, means more competition, not less. It opens the door for Road Runner, and Century Link, and Google to service what use to be an exclusive Comcast territory, because they can all use the same plant, just like their trucks all use the same street. Access fees, sure. Total throughput fees, sure.

    However, I don't think the big broadband companies want to fight this too hard. After all, if the municipality does not provide the physical plant, those companies have to make a HUGE investment in neighborhood plant before they can collect a cent of revenue. Its only where they are already entrenched (see what I did there?) that these companies are looking to prevent municipal broadband.Trying to preserve their existing monopoly.

    But I bet they are also doing the math, and realizing they can access more customers than they would lose, especially for TV, when sat dishes are dirt cheap.

     

  • Citizens Unite? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kennytosh (707149) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:30PM (#46154999) Homepage
    Why can a lobbyist introduce legislation into a State Legislature? There is something seriously wrong with that.
  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:34PM (#46155055)

    The reason Comcast is the only broadband provider is because alllllll the telecomm companies have mutually agreed to divvy up everything so that they can all keep rates as high as possible without competition to drive costs down.

    fixies~

  • Re:Citizens Unite? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by frisket (149522) <peter@NOSPAM.silmaril.ie> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:38PM (#46155135) Homepage
    This is the USA. Corporate interests own the legislatures.

    The bill was introduced by John Federico, a cable industry lobbyist.

    What do you expect? Who let this asshat in the door?

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizkid (13692) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:39PM (#46155151) Homepage

    Say what you will about the big telcos that have buildings and pop's in the area. They won't provide broadband. Yes they're there and selling services to businesses. they won't touch broadband though. That would create competition. The only way to open up competition will be to encourage small business to come in and provide a better product. The telco's would rather spend money on lobbyists then put fiber in the ground.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:32PM (#46155961) Homepage Journal

    Comcast_blackhat_01: "They've got a better product, we'd better lobby to have them kept out for no reason. We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Harrumph! Harrumph!"

    People railed against it. This proves Kansas isn't at the forefront of ignorance people suggest. Good for the people of Kansas for holding their leaders to account. Education is alive and well in the Sunflower State, the legislators were taught a lesson.

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:35PM (#46156001) Homepage Journal

    So... you're thinking the introduction of government into this system will make the system cheaper and higher quality?

    Um, the government's been in "this system" since the Internet was born.

    The question should have been whether or not the introduction of telecoms into "this system" and giving them defacto control over the market while allowing them to also be content providers in clear violation of antitrust laws was a good idea.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grmoc (57943) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:39PM (#46156065)

    The low hanging fruit is where the regulations allow them to deploy the most quickly to the largest number of customers.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zaelath (2588189) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @06:40PM (#46156073)

    When did Google become a charity again? At best their move into fiber is a highly capitalized risk venture, and your suggestion is they should "create markets" by providing incredibly expensive data runs to people the rest of the industry can't be bothered servicing because there's not enough of them to make a profit on.

    Traditionally that kind of folly is a role for government, perhaps you should be lobbying them to create a public network to compete with the privates. /laugh

  • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jxander (2605655) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:49PM (#46156823)

    I think that the introduction of ANY competition would make the system cheaper and higher quality.

    The only thing preventing progress is collusion. Cox, Time Warner, Comcast, etc have agreed not to step on each others toes. Only 1 provider available in most markets means a functional monopoly.

    I think the government would be hard pressed to provide something WORSE than the current offerings. Seriously, they'd have to make a valiant effort to fuck it up that badly. And even a marginally better solution would cause a pretty large exodus from the current companies. Forcing them to improve their product (or lower their prices)

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