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Anti-Competition, “1.5Mbps is Good Enough for You” Broadband Bill Before Georgia Legislators

georgiaA handful of Georgia state legislators have introduced a bill to ban community-owned broadband anywhere Internet service is available at speeds of at least 1.5Mbps — so slow it does not even meet the FCC’s new definition of “broadband.”

The so-called “Municipal Broadband Investment Act,” introduced Feb. 8 is just the latest in a series of anti-competition, corporate welfare bills designed to protect existing telecom monopolies and duopolies from facing any additional competition.

Introduced and co-sponsored by Reps. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming), Don Parsons (R-Marietta), Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla), Ben Harbin (R-Evans), and Jon Burns (R-Newington), H.B. 282 would only allow community providers to offer service where broadband is not available within a census block, a requirement that makes virtually all public broadband efforts untenable because of the patchwork of DSL service throughout the state.



Remarkably, the legislation also includes a penalty clause that will leave community providers liable for damages payable to corporate-owned Internet Service Providers if they dare compete with the state’s largest phone and cable companies. Local communities could even be on the hook for attorney fees paid by companies like Comcast, Windstream, and AT&T to make sure publicly owned ISPs never get off the ground.

Phone companies like Windstream are seeking federal funding from the FCC Connect America Fund that will defray up to $775 per home for new broadband hookups delivering at least 4/1Mbps service. But Georgia’s legislation will set a new standard for minimum broadband at a much slower 1.5Mbps, benefiting telephone companies like AT&T, CenturyLink and Windstream. All can claim their existing 1.5Mbps DSL lines are good enough for Georgia to consider an area “served” by broadband. That certification would make it impossible for a publicly owned provider to establish far faster service.

Stop the Cap! strongly urges Georgia residents to contact their state representative and ask that he or she vote no on H.B. 282, which is nothing more than another corporate-written and backed protectionism bill that will guarantee rural Georgia remains mired in a slow speed broadband swamp. The best way corporate ISPs can guarantee no community will rise up to compete is by providing 21st century broadband speeds and service to local residents.

The proposed bill is scheduled for its first hearing tomorrow afternoon at 4pm.

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. elfonblog says:

    Wow, oh wow. This orgiastic corporate wish-list pushing has reached a whole new low. Their choice of thresholds literally confesses their true intentions. And that name; “Municipal Broadband Investment Act”. Naturally, the short description on the ballot will only be “to allow for public providers of broadband service to provide such services in unserved areas”. Sounds good, right? I’d check that box!

    Maybe this could come back to bite the industry on it’s ass by wiring up thousands of rurals with fiber to the home right outside town wherein Comcast smugly sells 1.5Mbit for twice the cost.

    It’s also frustrating how the industry wants limitations tied to whether a minimum speed is available. The 1.5 number’s arbitrary. There’s no research finding what, if any speed, is “good enough”. But this bill might not be so bad if terms were adjusted. This is an opportunity to open up the dialogue which the monopolies want to snuff out. Tie any prohibitions to a metric of customer satisfaction. Poll the public for that metric. Go door to door with pamphlets and clipboards and give a short speech about what technology can do nowdays, what the offerings are like in OTHER states, and what Comcast is limiting them to here.

    If more than half of the population is satisfied with their slow, expensive service, and won’t sign the petition, then so be it. Fairsey-squaresey, and good job, Comcast, Frontier!

    Some thoughts about the bill; line 40-43(a): How hard would it be for a municipality to use the next 3.5 months to establish ONE or more Internet customers within each “census block” to reserve their right to provide there? Half a dozen 15.0Mbit point-to-point wireless connections won’t cost much comparatively. They could bide their time building out later, and there isn’t even any restriction on changing the technology type as they do so.

    Of course, line 44-49(b) the Commi$$ioner could decide to take 4 months or more to make a determination. Whoopsey. This better be changed to strike the part about the public provider being forced to wait for approval until they may commence. It also seems to be written so that the public provider must make separate requests for each census block, otherwise one “served area” found within a proposal list would invalidate the whole proposal. That’s just asinine. I assume “proposal requests” each require a hefty fee for consideration? Yeah.

    Line 69 would appear to make the definitions and procedures of this bill supersede all current laws anywhere, including redefining “broadband service” to be 1.5Mbit/sec. This is “# rm -rf /”, folks! It’s possible that this is procedurally disallowed; i.e., that this kind of bill/act is an invalid way to change such things wholesale, or is invalid against the authorit(ies) who defined them. I would get creative and look into whether this chapter neuters existing laws which the industry favors, and run rampant on them.

    I probably don’t understand the implications of lines 50-64. Could someone chime in with any ideas? Never mind the typo on line 56: “act WITH is prohibited” AFAIK, the section applies only to the language in the new chapter defined in this bill. But this chapter only creates an agreement of new terms which non-retroactively begins on a fixed date, and empowers the commission to make one kind of decision up until that same date. I’m at a loss to understand how any public provider could, in the future, be in violation of facts that were made valid at one fixed point in time? Even if the commission decides it ruled incorrectly, this is their fault, and the public provider can’t be responsible for the commission’s incompetence or bad data. In fact, this section sort of looks like it could be twisted so that it could be used to attack any existing public provider in a given census tract who fails to accomplish something which is beyond their control, but within control of the commission and private providers. IMHO, it’s horribly written and would be thrown out by a fair court.

    So, line 22 needs to say “4Mbit/sec” or higher. The date in line 40 is obviously chosen so that it’s too soon for any public provider (or would-be) to act in time… let’s make that “January 1, 2014” shall we? Let’s still go ahead and give the Commission 3 working days to fire up a GIS screen and see if there’s any broadband above 4Mbit in a given proposal area. The applicable telcos need to give them immediate or timely access to this data. Failure to provide it should result in automatic approval.

  2. elfonblog says:

    One more LOL; by definition, “Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated” itself is in conflict with this Act, which seeks to amend the Code. Since ratifying the Act would repeal the Code, then it either becomes the whole of the Code, or an orphaned, and thus powerless amendment to a repealed Code.

  3. James Cieloha says:

    Every AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast customer in Georgia should be ashamed of both their providers and their state politicians for not wanting to allow communities to build their own broadband network in Georgia very severely.

    I feel that Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast, and all of the state politicians are trying to be way too big being like the Wal-Mart’s, the Clive Davis’s when he was at Columbia Records in the 1970′s, the Neil Bogart’s of Casablanca Records fame of the 1970′s disco era, the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s, the David Smith (one of the Smith brothers from Sinclair Broadcast Group), the Harry Pappas as part of the Pappas Telecasting Companies, the Bernard Madoff’s, the Enron’s, the Worldcom’s, the Adelphia’s, the Tyco’s, the Martha Stewart’s, and the Jill Kelley’s of the 2000′s by letting greed get out of control so all of the head employees and bosses at AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast to be able to enjoy carefree lavishly spending to support carefree lavishly lifestyles with luxurious homes, luxurious yachts, luxurious jets, luxurious cars, join luxurious clubs, go to luxurious conventions, go to luxurious hotels, go to luxurious casinos to do gambling, throw luxurious parties, and have other luxurious items just to make them very happy then trying and willingness to improve the quality of all of their employees and making the customers very happy as well.

    I hope and I wish that AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast goes out of business for their unwillingness to care for their customers and their employees. I feel that Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast are trying to bribe like the General Tire/RKO General of the 1960′s and 1970′s by not being very honest of not only the customers and also on themselves.

    I hope and I wish that the FCC would allow all the television and telephone providers with internet broadband that has never ever impose usage caps to the internet broadband customers be allowed to purchase and acquired customers from AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast and are being required to make a real big concession that they would promised not to have any difficulties with all the internet broadband providers competitors and their customers by not imposing usage caps and meters and raising prices for them to put them out of business sooner and without any interference for 12 straight whole years.

    I feel that Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast, and all of the state politicians are way too big being way too busy being the PSY Gangham Style, the Carly Rae Jepsen Call Me Maybe, the Nicole Westbrook It’s Thanksgiving, the Rebecca Black Friday, the Double Take Hot Problems and the Guns N Roses Axl Rose as well as trying be act like the Jerry Sandusky’s as the assaulters, the Jodi Arias’s, the Casey Anthony’s, the Charles Manson’s, the Lyle and Erik Menendez’s, the O. J. Simpson’s, the Scott Peterson’s, and the Drew Peterson’s as the greedy murderers, the Lindsay Lohan’s as the drunks and the drug abusers, the Rodney Dangerfield’s, the John Belushi’s, and the Chris Farley’s as the comedians, the Gordon Gekko’s, the Victoria Grayson’s, The Victor Newman’s and the Jack Abbott’s, the J. R. Ewing’s and the Cliff Barnes’s, the Charles Montgomery Burn’s, the Homer and Bart Simpson’s, the Peter Griffin’s, the Garfield cat’s, the Cookie Monster’s, and the Miss Piggy’s, of the television, telephone and internet broadband industry of preferring to let customer service suffer by not allowing communities to build their own broadband networks in Georgia.

    I feel that Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast, and all of the state politicians are trying to turn into the 1919 Chicago White Sox’s baseball team and the Southern Methodist University football of the 1980′s to force all the customers to accept whether or not the customers will be willing to deal with AT&T’s, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast customer service and making them deal with just poor customer service in Georgia. I urge all the AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast customers in Georgia to boycott Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast, and all of the state politicians including those in the House and Senate right now for making all the customers suffer from having to deal with poor service for their internet broadband needs and not allowing communities to build their own broadband networks in Georgia.

    I’m commented in response to all AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast customers who are very sick and tired of all the ways Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast, and all of the state politicians to make sure that communities don’t build their own broadband networks and have fears to see AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast internet service deteriorate very much rapidly in a heartbeat in Georgia.

    I gracefully would support all community internet broadband providers and would want all of them to be able to be allowed to provide the fastest internet speeds of up to 1GB very fairly by the communities being allowed to build their own fiber optics cable lines without interference from Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast, and all of the state politicians with the fact that AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast is already providing very limited internet broadband service at way less broadband speeds to all of their own customers.

    I hope and I wish that Randall Stephenson with AT&T, Glen Post with CenturyLink, Jeffery Gardner with Windstream, and Ralph and Brian Roberts with Comcast, and all of the state politicians is willing to allow all the communites to build out their own fiber optic cable networks for their superior mega fast internet broadband service that beats out AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, and Comcast internet service and speeds to all of their own customers in Georgia.

  4. Adam Ridley says:

    Windstream already refuses to upgrade their equipment as is, if they have nobody who can come and compete with them why would they bother spending the money they got from the govt to upgrade places where they fear no loss of customers because nobody is going through the trouble of setting up a network were they fastest speed they could offer is 1.5.

    Windstream has been telling customers all over that a fix was coming (for me over three years), they tell you they have over utilization problems in your area and the dsl has been oversold. They know the DSLam you connect to is at capacity but continue to sign new customers up on the already overloaded system. They don’t guarantee you a set speed no matter which one you sign up for. They have done nothing but lie to their customers for years, and are now trying to keep competition out of these areas where they have been the only game in town. I have called the FCC,Georgia Public Service Commission, BBB and the State Attorney office and Representatives in GA. Windstream must have plenty of money because each one of these have turned a blind eye to complaint after complaint.

    Windstream wants to spend the money on areas where they have a chance to lose a customer to cable or another provider, not one who only has sat internet as their only other option. Windstream is going out of their way to screw over everyone in Georgia who have no other option.

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