Update: Virginia Bill (Still) Seeks to Limit Municipal Authority
Delegate Byron’s “Virginia Broadband Deployment Act” Harms Everyone But Cable Monopolies
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The saga of limiting broadband competition in Virginia continues. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced he would veto HB 2108 in its current form because the goal of connecting Virginians requires “encouraging competition, not stifling it.” In response, Delegate Kathy J. Byron (R-Forest) introduced a substantially edited bill, which still attacks municipal broadband entities across the state.
HB 2108 imposes burdens on local governments when they begin to solicit proposals for better Internet service, directly harming localities that are desperate for more investment. The bill still gives an edge to private providers by ensuring municipal actors must share their trade secrets. It also opens up local governments to lawsuits for perceived service issues as well as limiting private investment in Internet connectivity. These restrictions functionally ensure that it is impossible for municipal networks to develop and offer competition to the cable monopolies.
“There is nothing about this bill that helps rural Virginia get better connected,” says Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “It is entirely about locking down rural markets for companies like AT&T that want to continue profiting from them while refusing to invest in modern connections. These communities are already disadvantaged because they lack access to high-quality, affordable Internet service.”
Some 20 states have limit on local authority to build networks and Virginia is already one of them. This bill would further limit local Internet choice despite incredibly successful municipal networks across the state. See ILSR’s fact sheet on Virginia‘s networks. Also, the local group; Friends of Municipal Broadband, is hosting a press conference today at 1:00 PM in Richmond, VA.
About Christopher Mitchell:
Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Mitchell leads the acclaimed MuniNetworks.org as part of ILSR’s effort to ensure broadband networks are directly accountable to the communities that depend upon them. He is a leading national expert on community networks, advising high-ranking broadband decision-makers and speaking on radio and television programs across the United States.
FOR MORE INFORMATION and to schedule an interview with Christopher, call Nick Stumo-Langer at 612-844-1330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.