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The Georgia General Assembly is considering another bill to limit investment in telecommunications networks in the state, an odd proposition when just about everyone agrees states need as much investment in these networks as possible.
House Bill 282, the "Municipal Broadband Investment Act," purports to limit the ability of public entities to invest only in "unserved" areas. But as usual, the devil is in the details. This bill will be discussed on Wednesday, Feb 13 at 4:00 EST in the Telecom Subcommittee of the House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications committee (Committee roster here).
We strongly encourage Georgians to write to members of this committee and explain that these decisions should be made at the local level, not by the state. Communities each face unique circumstances regarding the need for telecommunications investment and they can be trusted to make informed decisions after weighing the available evidence.
Many local governments have invested in modest networks to connect local businesses, but such investments will be prohibited in Georgia if residents in the area are already served with a connection of at least 1.5 Mbps in one direction. This baseline is far lower standard than the FCC's definition of "basic" broadband: 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Setting a low baseline hurts communities but rewards carriers that have refused to invest in modern networks.
This bill poses a dramatic threat to the ability of local governments to encourage economic development and provide the environment necessary for the private sector to create the jobs every community needs. See our fact sheet on how public broadband investments have created jobs.
Supporters of this bill will claim that it only restricts investment to areas that are most needing it. This argument is not only flat wrong, it comes mostly from those most interested in preventing, not encouraging, investment.
The bill will effectively prohibit any community investment because the cost of collecting the data and making the case that areas are unserved...Read more