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Windstream, AT&T Aim to Keep Georgia at 1.5 Mbps
Another Absurd Anti-Community Broadband Bill
by Karl Bode 10:18AM Wednesday Feb 13 2013
A new bill is being proposed in Georgia that would ban towns and cities from deploying their own broadband -- if there's at least one person with a 1.5 Mbps downstream connection anywhere in a census block. House Bill 282, or the inversely-named "Municipal Broadband Investment Act," emerges after AT&T tried and failed to get a different community broadband bill passed last year.

AT&T and Windstream appear to be the ones lobbying for the bill, using regulatory capture to ensure nobody can offer anything faster than the fairly pathetic, uncompetitive DSL networks both companies refuse to seriously upgrade. As Christopher Mitchell notes, the bill's 1.5 Mbps standard is even below the FCC's paltry 4 Mbps broadband definition. The bill also acts to ban existing municipal deployments from moving forward if locals have 1.5 Mbps:
In a nutshell, HB 282 would require a city to get permission from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to provide broadband services only in areas the PSC deems as “unserved.” And unserved is defined as a census block where no broadband service is currently available. Also, while a city may continue to serve its existing customers, it may not expand the service beyond its existing customer base unless there is no other broadband service in the proposed new service area.
As is usually the case, the industry argues that it's simply unfair for them to have to compete with government, yet the reality is they're using government to ensure they never have to compete with towns -- or anybody else. If Windstream and AT&T were providing adequate service in Georgia, towns and cities in the state wouldn't be attempting the very difficult task of trying to wire themselves.

The bill is set to be debated today at 4:00 EST in the Telecom Subcommittee of the House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications committee. For those in Georgia who'd prefer something better than 1.5 Mbps DSL over the next decade, I'd urge you to contact committee members and remind them they work for you, not solely for AT&T and Windstream.

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