Following the introduction of SB 304 to limit investment in Internet networks in Kansas, which we covered on Tuesday, we saw some early reactions from those who fear the bill will effectively stop new investment in networks, much to the benefit of the big cable and telephone companies already providing service.
The city opposes the bill because it’s legislation that allows lawmakers in Topeka to define what local communities can or cannot do.
“It’s about home rule, local choice,” Chanute Utilities Director Larry Gates said. “It’s not about what happens in Topeka.”
And a local business weighed in, noting that the City service is essential because the private providers have refused to upgrade and offer modern services:
Phil Jarred of Jarred Gilmore & Phillips PA said the two private companies providing internet services, CableOne and AT&T cannot meet the needs his business requires.
“Both services are not fast enough,” Jarred said. “It costs us too much not to have the fiber optics.”
Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm noted that it curiously bans both municipal networks and the types of partnerships that Google and Kansas City formed, finishing with “it looks like incumbent providers are fighting back with politics.”
This is nothing new of course – companies have sought for years to protect their businesses with laws limiting the competition rather than investing or being innovative. But when it comes to an essential infrastructure, we should be particularly careful.