We are hearing that SB 313 in Georgia, AT&T's bill to overrule local authority, will be turned into a study bill. Despite the strong support of the Senate Majority Leader, the bill lost support after we and others exposed the frank admission of AT&T's CEO that they had no plans to expand broadband in rural areas.
Given the strength of AT&T's lobbying and the support of the Senate Majority Leader, this is a tremendous victory. Congratulations to the communities in Georgia that successfully organized and defended their authority to decide locally if a network is a wise choice for them.
We do not consider these issues resolved until the ink is dried, but it does look like AT&T lost this round -- which means thousands of local businesses and millions of people won. They can still hope for next-generation networks and a real choice in providers.
Note: the South Carolina bill remains in play and will be discussed on Wednesday by a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee.
We have been collecting some of the news coverage of this broadband debate in Georgia, but have neglected posting until now. Here is a run-down of some of the coverage.
In the beginning of February, the AP covered an SB 313 hearing featuring testimony from rural communities:
Leaders from cities including Elberton, Hogansville, Thomasville, Monroe and Toccoa lined up to tell senators that broadband is necessary infrastructure for the 21st century economic development they hope to attract — and that they are doing what they must to keep their communities competitive.
"We cannot wait for the private sector to ride to our rescue," said Tim Martin, executive director of the Toccoa-Stephens County Development Authority.
Thomasville Mayor Max Beverly said the city's broadband network supports major employers there.
"If we have to cut them off, there's no telling what that's going to do...