The latest attack on municipal broadband networks comes in the form of the Broadband Investment and Community Choice Act, a bill recently introduced in the Senate, which, according to an article on O'Reilly Network, would seriously limit local governments' ability to create and deploy public networks. Richard Koman writes:
The bill says local governments that want to build a public network must issue a Request for Proposal--through a third-party agency--and that in the case of competing bids between private and public sector parties, the neutral agency shall give preference to private sector companies. In addition, if the government wins the bid, private companies will have the "ability" to use the publicly built conduits and trenches. Governments that are already delivering network services would be allowed to continue but could not add new features or expand the service area.
And this is just the latest salvo, coming after a House bill introduced by former SBC executive Rep. Pete Sessions, which would effectively make urban broadband networks illegal; the Pennsylvania legislature's veto of Philadelphia's original plan for a citywide network; and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's signing of a law prohibiting cities from creating networks if private carriers are already in place. On governments' side, Sen. John McCain introduced a bill that would protect municipalities' right to create such networks.