Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Concerns raised over Florida broadband franchise bill

The bill bans the government from forcing utilities to build out their infrastructure to offer services to all neighborhoods. But it also names the attorney general as the agent responsible for enforcing antidiscrimination rules, giving the office the power to fine utilities not in compliance.

The antidiscrimination provision seems to be open to some interpretation, with the antibuildout language giving companies accused of discriminating a strong leg to stand on.

Brad Ashwell, consumer advocate for Florida Public Interest Research Group, said that while rates may drop initially, he expects gradual increases over time. "This bill doesn't guarantee that everyone is going to be served or enjoy the benefits of 21st century technology."

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