Last week, a bill was introduced to the Kansas legislature that would have a devastating effect on the growth and implementation of local fiber and municipal broadband in the state, if passed.
According to Ars Technica, the bill was introduced by John Federico on behalf of the Kansas Telecommunications Association, which is a lobbying group. Its members include Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and Eagle Communications.
The bill outlaws locales from providing “video, telecommunications, or broadband service; or purchase, lease, construct, maintain, or operate and facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications, or broadband service to one or more subscribers.”
That’s basically saying, the city can’t provide internet and the city can’t enter into a private partnership with a company to provide internet service. It’s a lobbying interest trying to prevent competition from coming and forcing the existing telecoms from having to lower their prices and provide better service.
After the story broke on Friday, and public pressure, John Federico came forward and announced that the lobby would be postponing a hearing on the bill to revise the language regarding “unserved areas.”
Without public interest in the subject, the bill would have likely proceeded unchecked and formed an effective barrier to entry for any future broadband and local ISP growth. It’s obvious that the major telecoms are acutely aware that fiber and municipal access are threats to their current models and are prepared to do everything that they can to prevent the competition form coming and providing consumers a choice. Unless, of course, “everything they can” means competing and providing a quality service to their customers at a competitive price.