Public Broadband Ballot Initiative – Nebraska

Nebraska is the only state in the union served entirely by public power utilities. In 2005, the Nebraska Legislature passed a law prohibiting public power utilities from selling broadband or other telecommunications services for a two year period (Legislative Bill 645). The bill also created a task force to investigate broadband access in Nebraska and the implications of allowing public entities to provide broadband.  The Task Force issued a report [pdf] in November, 2006.  BPL Today discussed many problems with the Task Force approach to the the ban on public entities investing in broadband.  Though we do not view BPL (broadband over power lines) to be a good investment for communities, we do believe it foolish to prevent munis from being able to invest in any broadband network technologies.  

A group of Nebraskans, including a member of the task force, filed papers for a ballot initiative that would permit municipalities and public power companies to offer telecommunications services.  Unfortunately, they were unable to gather the required 89,000 signatures due to the rural, distributed nature of the population and a variety of hurdles that seem designed to prevent any petition from succeeding.

More Information:

  • Full statement on the Public Broadband Initiative
  • Linda Aerni’s statement before the Columbus, Nebraska City Council
  • Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, The Need to Permit Broadband from Public Entitites, May 22, 2006.
  • Common Cause: Broadband task force has done little to serve public
  • New Nebraska Network on the Broadband Betrayal

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