Congress Agrees To Make It Harder To Get Competitive High Speed Broadband

from the because-who-wants-that? dept

Earlier we wrote about Rep. Marsha Blackburn adding a terrible amendment to a House appropriations bill that would block the FCC from preempting anti-competitive bans on municipal broadband. Unfortunately, despite some noise about it, the amendment it was approved 223 - 200 in the House. While Blackburn (falsely) spun the bill about letting local governments make their own decisions, that's flat out wrong. As others have pointed out it's exactly the opposite. The FCC's plan would be about giving power back to local governments to allow them to make their own decisions about whether or not they wanted to offer municipal broadband.

What's really incredible here is that, as we noted this morning, one of the most successful muni-broadband projects in the country is in Chattanooga, Tennessee -- not far from Blackburn's district. Tennessee, however, has an anti-muni broadband law that is preventing Chattanooga from actually expanding its service and offering it to more people. The utility that runs the Chattanooga fiber project recently made it clear it would like to ask the FCC to preempt the law that's currently blocking it from expanding its service. So, Blackburn is directly telling people in Tennessee that they can't get faster, cheaper broadband, and that their local governments can't help, because of a lobbyist-fueled bill in the state capitol.

If I were a constituent of Blackburn's, I'd be pissed off that's she is fundamentally blocking a path to faster, cheaper broadband. Thankfully, her amendment would have to be matched in the Senate, and that seems unlikely. But it still should make Blackburn's constituents question whom she's really representing here. The people who elected her, or the big cable company lobbyists? Wait, you don't have to answer that, because David Sirota has the details.
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.
So, that kind of answers that question, doesn't it?
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Filed Under: chattanooga, competition, fcc, marsha blackburn, munibroadband, preemption, tennessee


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  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 17 Jul 2014 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I didn't suggest that the private option is "better" (didn't even mention it), rather that the current hodge podge attempts at muni deals seem to be on par with the Springfield Monorail.

    Fair enough. You are ignoring that there are also quite a few examples of municipal enterprises that did well. Your tonne suggests that public is bad and private is awesome and this is empirically false.

    Yup, and competition tends to drive certain companies out of business because they end up selling below the costs that they can really maintain, and you end up back with a monopoly or near monopoly, and the prices rise up again.

    And then other companies take advantage and offer sane prices that also allow investing in expansion and things get back to a competitive market. Unless there are artificial, Govt imposed monopolies at play.

    The real solution will come when everyone finally sits down and decides how to properly set up the last mile in a way that can be shared by dozens of different competitors in the phone, internet, and TV sectors, such that rather than having to build it out multiple times for each provider, that a unified solution can be found that also opens up the field for competition.

    Now you are talking. A Government provided structure and even the final service can help here. And can boost competition. If the ISPs didn't care about competing with crappy Govt services they wouldn't be lobbying hard against municipally powered broadband.

    I'd argue that if any company wants to add their own infra-structure in a determined area then simply go for it be it the municipality, the Federal Govt or Jesus Christ Himself. Just don't enact laws blocking it because some incumbents want. Which is the original point of the article.

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