FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 26, 2016
CONTACT: Rebecca Toews, rebecca@ILSR.org,
Campaign Finance Questions Arise Over Controversial Internet Bill
After cutting a sizable donation to the Missouri Republican Party, AT&T’s bill to limit broadband competition from community networks is moving through the house.
Just months after AT&T cut a $20,000 check to the House Republican Campaign Committee, Representative Lyndall Fraker introduced HB 2078. It is aimed at preventing communities from both establishing their own municipal broadband network and from partnering with private providers who want to serve schools, businesses, and residents. This is not an isolated attempt.
Much like a neighboring Kansas bill in 2014 that was halted in its tracks because of its limits on competition, this bill hamstrings municipalities, limits borrowing and prohibits any new municipality from offering to provide competitive services.
Rep. Fraker is Chair of the Missouri House Utility Infrastructure Committee.
“This bill is yet another attempt by big telephone companies to limit choice in the market,” says Christopher Mitchell, director of Community Broadband Networks, an initiative of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “AT&T not only refuses to provide modern connectivity, it is trying to prevent others from doing so.”
The requirements in HB 2078 and its companion bill SB 946 are intended to limit competition – to maintain existing de facto telecom monopolies and duopolies within Missouri. A key benefit to allowing partnerships is the establishment of competition in areas where there is only one provider who has no reason to work to please its subscribers.
ABOUT COMMUNITY BROADBAND NETWORKS:
MuniNetworks.org tracks publicly owned networks. Our research has found time and again that when states put up barriers to these networks, the only real winners are the incumbent providers. These providers raise rates and refuse to invest in high speed Internet networks.
About Christopher Mitchell
Christopher Mitchell is the go-to national expert on Municipal Networks. He advises the White House on publicly-owned networks, the FCC on policy improvements, and city government officials on what they need to do to bring their communities access and competition. MuniNetworks.org
Mitchell was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. That same year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors named ILSR the Broadband Organization of the Year. In 2011, that organization also honored Mitchell for his policy work.