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
    Whatever (profile), 17 Jul 2014 @ 6:56pm

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

    Rural is the easiest by far. The distances are big, but since fiber is pretty good over medium distances, it's not hard to install when the only thing you are disturbing generally is a bit of cow poop and dirt.

    At the other end, cities with underground infrastructure are also easier in a sense, because you have access to the buildings usually already created and going to a central passage or pipe.

    The real hard one, and the one that most ISPs face is the 'burbs. Private land, hundreds and thousands of individuals land owners, air rights, ground rights, criss crossing gas lines, phone lines, and so on - and most houses don't have ready access to get another cable inside. So each installation is work, trenching the back yard, drilling access into the house, suitably locating the client side end, etc. Those are the painful, labor and contract agreement intensive deals that are hard to do. Oh, and you have to negotiate with each land owner (plus whoever manages common area land or air rights in the area).

    The program you cite (farm rural) is easier and more expensive per hookup, but probably many more times rewarding, considering these people likely had piss poor service before that. Even then, it's sort of a fail because it's "our internet only", another monopoly.

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