Cable Lobbyists Say They'll 'Tweak' Kansas Broadband Bill
by Karl Bode 08:49AM Monday Feb 03 2014 Tipped by newview
In response to mounting pressure from consumers and companies like Alcatel Lucent and Google
, cable lobbyists in Kansas say they'll "tweak" a protectionist bill written by the cable industry that would make it more difficult (if not impossible) for towns and competitors to improve broadband in the state. The bill
raises barriers for broadband improvement in "unserved" portions of the State, but then proceeds to define unserved quite broadly -- as in anywhere there's not satellite broadband or wireless connectivity.
Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica
notes that the bill was written and presented by the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA), whose members include Cox, Time Warner Cable, and Eagle Communications. KCTA tells Ars they'll "tweak" the bill's unserved locations language, but denies the bill has anything to do with Google Fiber or a specific cable company's interests (Time Warner Cable competes with Google Fiber in Kansas City, Kansas):
"Google was never mentioned one time as our board deliberated on whether to move forward with this legislation," he said. "This bill has nothing to do with Google." Because of a grandfather clause, the bill would only affect future broadband networks rather than ones that already exist. When asked if the bill was driven by any particular cable company, Federico reiterated that it was "discussed by the board of directors and they decided to move forward with it."
More than a dozen states have passed such bills at incumbent ISP request, banning towns and cities (and often small competitors) from upgrading state infrastructure -- even in cases where the incumbent ISPs have repeatedly refused to.