ILSR Monitors Georgia Legislation to Kill Municipal Networks

Date: 20 Feb 2013 | posted in: MuniNetworks | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Once again, the Georgia General Assembly is considering a bill that would devastate local communities’ right to build their own telecommunications networks. ILSR is monitoring this House Bill 282 as it moves through through the Senate and House.

The bill, misleadingly called the “Municipal Broadband Investment Act,” creates barriers to any municipal network in areas that are considered “served” by an impossibly low standard. According to ILSR’s Christopher Mitchell:

We strongly encourage Georgians to write to members of this committee and explain that these decisions should be made at the local level, not by the state. Communities each face unique circumstances regarding the need for telecommunications investment and they can be trusted to make informed decisions after weighing the available evidence.

Many local governments have invested in modest networks to connect local businesses, but such investments will be prohibited in Georgia if residents in the area are already served with a connection of at least 1.5 Mbps in one direction. This baseline is far lower standard than the FCC’s definition of “basic” broadband: 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Setting a low baseline hurts communities but rewards carriers that have refused to invest in modern networks.

The bill’s House sponsor is Republican Mark Hamilton, who is a member of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee. Originally, HB 282 was on the agenda for February 13th committee meeting but was removed at the last minute. ILSR is monitoring this legislation and we urge you to email or phone Members on the Committee and express your opposition. This bill is another attempt to revoke the power for local communities to make their own decisions about connectivity.

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Lisa Gonzalez

Lisa Gonzalez researched and reported on telecommunications and municipal networks' impact on life at the local level. Lisa also wrote for and produced ILSR's Broadband Bits podcast.