Utah lawmakers propose anti-municipal broadband provider legislation

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Utah has become the latest municipal broadband battleground as the state is looking at a new law that could inhibit the growth of public-based municipal broadband networks, reports ars technica.

The new bill, which is called "Interlocal Entity Service Prohibition," would prevent UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency) from extending its Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) open access network into new markets.

Sponsored by Republican lawmaker Curt Webb, the proposed bill "prohibits an interlocal entity that provides telecommunication service through a fiber optic network from constructing infrastructure or providing telecommunication service in locations outside the boundaries of its members."

One of the interesting aspects of the UTOPIA network is that it's an open access network that allows any ISP to use and deliver service to consumers and businesses over the fiber.

"Because our network is open, the incumbent telecoms are welcome to join our network, but have elected not to," UTOPIA said.

Although the bill would not affect the service that's currently offered in 11 of the 16 member cities and towns, UTOPIA's legislative policy director, Gary Crane, said it would still hurt UTOPIA because "we have fiber connections just about everywhere."

In an e-mail to FierceTelecom, Craig Settles, community broadband analyst and consultant, said this bill, like the recently proposed Kansas law, is nothing more than the incumbent cable operators and telcos protecting their turf while offering much slower broadband speeds.

"First Kansas, now Utah," Settles said. "These legislative actions expose the lie by big incumbents that munis can't run broadband businesses effectively. If munis are so incompetent, incumbents wouldn't need to push these anti-competition bills."

For more:
 - ars technica has this article

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