Monday, February 25, 2008

Local government units could build own broadband infrastructure under proposed California legislation

Following the January release of a report by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Broadband Task Force finding nearly 2,000 California communities lacking high speed Internet access, legislation has been introduced that would authorize community service districts (CSDs) to offer broadband service within their jurisdictions.

SB 1191 would allow allow CSDs to "acquire, own, improve, maintain, and operate broadband facilities and to provide broadband services, until a private person or entity is ready, willing, and able to acquire, construct, improve, maintain, and operate broadband facilities and to provide broadband services, and to sell those services at a comparable cost and quality of service to the district and its property owners, residents, and visitors." If and when a qualified private broadband provider steps up and shows an interest in serving the community, the legislation requires the CSD to sell or lease its broadband infrastructure to the provider at fair market value.

In 2007, a California Court of Appeal ruling cleared the way for public utility districts to provide advanced telecommunications services, rejecting a legal challenge by a cable TV company.

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