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Georgia state legislature becomes the latest to tackle municipal broadband menace

February 14th, 2013 at 11:59 PM

Georgia’s state legislature recently became the latest to take up the cause of protecting its constituents from the insidious menace of municipal broadband. Ars Technica reports that “incumbent broadband providers are pushing legislation that would restrict Georgia towns from building municipal broadband networks” by mandating that “if a single home in a census tract has Internet access at speeds of 1.5Mbps or above, the town would be prohibited from offering broadband service to anyone in that tract.” The Macon Telegraph reports that legislators from some rural towns in Georgia are “up in arms” over the proposed legislation and claim that they need to build their own broadband networks because “companies simply will not bring the highest-speed Internet to their residents because it doesn’t turn a profit.”

As Ars notes, both North Carolina and South Carolina have passed similar legislation over the past couple of years that make it more difficult for municipalities to build out their own public broadband networks. In the case of South Carolina, one of the big powers behind the bill was the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which argued that “if municipalities are inclined to pursue broadband initiatives then certain safeguards must be put in place in order to ensure that private providers, with whom the municipality will compete with, are not disadvantaged by the municipality in the exercise of its bonding and taxing authority.”

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