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February 21, 2013

Georgia Bill Stirs Fight Over Municipally Owned Networks

IPI expert referenced: Tom Giovanetti | In The News | Media Hit
  Communications Daily

By John Hendel

Georgia's House Bill 282 is reigniting controversies and conversation on whether states should limit municipal broadband networks. Other states have debated and sometimes passed such laws in the past. The bill has attracted heavy media attention since it was introduced in early February, and last Friday FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski discouraged state legislators from passing such laws. The bill proposes forbidding municipal networks if a region's residents connect at speeds of 1.5 Mbps, a provision which has attracted intense opposition as well as support.

..."Government will not compete fairly," Institute for Policy Innovation President Tom Giovanetti warned Georgia legislators in a Feb. 7 letter  supporting the bill. "Governments will give their own network efforts advantages in zoning hearings, taxes, permit approvals, and other government functions. They will cross-subsidize their struggling networks with taxpayer money levied to perform other, more important functions." Windstream's Einhorn said he's seen a movement "to do more of those" when speaking about municipal networks in Georgia. Often the municipal networks emerge in towns and the residential places where Windstream sees competition, not the high-cost, "really hard to serve" areas, he added.

To read the full article, please visit Communications Daily.


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