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?
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: chattanooga, competition, fcc, marsha blackburn, munibroadband, preemption, tennessee

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 17 Jul 2014 @ 11:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Everything you said about the difficulty of installing fiber still doesn't justify laws preventing municipal broadband. I'm not sure how it's gonna play out but the largest infra-structure holder here in Brazil is Telebrás. The Government came up with a plan to let private entities use that structure to offer broadband at popular prices. At the moment the popular prices go at $20 for 10mbit. That extra infra-structure will not prevent bad customer practices in regions where only one company provides broadband (read: almost everywhere outside of metropolitan regions). In any case the Govt stepping in did greatly decrease the price (I used to pay $80 for 10mbit 2 years ago now I'm at $40 for 50mbit for example). Even if it didn't solve the quality problem. So maybe there are other measures that could be adopted to further increase the quality but I'm not entirely sure how broadband works here or even if it is a concession like telephony.

    successful is the BVU optinet thing in Virginia, but when they want $300 plus a month for residential gigabit service

    Aha, Gigabit is still high end man you need to compare apples with apples so we need to go for the average speed. A Gigabit connection here costs $1500 to install plus $700 per month.

    It shows perhaps that there is a very big need to separate the final mile from the service providers. Build it and lease it to them, heck, make it mandatory for them to use it (eliminating more overhead wiring and maintenance). Win Win for everyone, no?

    I'd go further, I'd offer that and let the ISPs build their own infra-structure if they want. Including municipalities.

    Again, this does not justify laws against municipal broadband.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.