Michigan Radio - October 17, 2017
Written by Virginia Gordan
Freshman Michigan state representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) introduced a bill that would essentially block any investment into communities wanting to better their Internet connectivity. With this off-season state legislative activity, Michigan Radio reporter Virginia Gordan reached out to gain Christopher Mitchell's national perspective on how these restrictive state bills end up.
Christopher's contributions are below:
Critics of the bill say it would harm Michigan communities with inadequate internet access and hurt their economic development.
According to Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute of Local Self Reliance, the bill would leave the businesses in underserved communities less competitive, hurt their children's education, and result in declining property values.
Mitchell said the bill is about private providers' fear of broadband competition and of local communities' providing faster and more reliable service at the same or lower prices.
"If they face any competition, then they're either going to have to lose those customers or invest significantly to keep them. So the big companies want to prevent that," said Mitchell. "The other concern, even in areas where they don't have customers, is the threat of a good example."
Hoitenga said she expects the bill to be substantially amended after hearings take place next week before the House Communications and Technology Committee, which she chairs. She said her goal is to improve internet access throughout Michigan, and she introduced this bill to spark a conversation.