Fat Pipe Dreams
Richard Bennett recently posted a blog on a recent skirmish occurring over a North Carolina bill, H129, on municipal broadband projects. The growing outcry has been that the bill is attempting to disallow municipal broadband and that the trend could continue into other states. (A copy of the bill can be found here.)
However, Bennett says that a reading of the bill does not indicate in the slightest that municipal broadband would be off limits to unserved communities. The bill actually focuses on the use of tax payer dollars for a second or third broadband pipe into a community.
The reason for the attention toward second or third infrastructure being built by a municipality, Bennett explains, is that private sector providers want to make sure that public sector providers are playing by the same rules. Municipalities would have an unfair advantage in the marketplace if they used their regulatory authority to improve the quality of municipal service while hampering the the quality of service from a private sector provider who would also be in direct competition with the municipality.
Bennett feels that this is simply Net Neutrality from the private sector point of view. And that business is simply stating that just because governments make neutrality rules to regulate private providers that does not mean that government providers should be immune to their own regulation.
Additionally he argues that this bill allows the people of a community to vote on these projects before their tax dollars are spent on it. Bennett believes this is what most likely irks the “traveling band of rural overbuilding consultants,” as he calls them. Essentially stating that those that often wave the banner in favor of municipal services are never around when the bills come and if the project fails.