Monday, February 03, 2014

Kan. bill would outlaw public broadband service - Washington Times

Kan. bill would outlaw public broadband service - Washington Times: Officials in the southeast Kansas city of Chanute, population 9,100, say they’re the primary target of the proposed legislation. As part of its public utility system, the city runs an ultra-high-speed broadband network that now serves schools, city buildings, the town hospital, banks and other key businesses.

On Nov. 23, the City Commission voted to work toward “fiber to home,” which would extend access to all residents and businesses within about a three-mile radius around the city, said Larry Gates, Chanute utilities director.

“This bill is an attack on competition, an attack on municipal government,” Gates said. “It takes away our local control and local decision making. It will hurt our efforts in economic development,” he said. (Emphasis added)

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Gates' characterization of the bill as an "attack on competition." Utility infrastructure by nature isn't a competitive market. It's really an attack on progress that threatens the incumbent telephone and cable providers backing the measure.

Upgrading the nation's telecommunications infrastructure to fiber to the premise to support new Internet protocol-based networks represents progress in the digital age just as interstate highways did in the 1950s. No one would describe paved roads as "competition" to dirt roads. By bullying local governments to get their way, the incumbents are on the wrong side of this issue. Americans like progress and they hate bullies. If they keep it up, local governments should respond by exercising their redevelopment and inverse condemnation powers to take over incumbent assets and upgrade them to fiber to the premise.

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