Georgia legislators propose bill to curtail community broadband

Georgia is the latest state to become engaged in a community broadband fight with the introduction of SB 313, the Broadband Investment Equity Act.

Last week, SB 313, the Broadband Investment Equity Act, was introduced in the Georgia Senate. This bill, in essence, would create a number of barriers for communities that want to build and operate their own networks.

If passed, communities would be required to issue an RFP that traditional incumbent cable operators and telcos could bid on before building a network and have a special election so residents can either vote for or against having a project moving forward.

As told by the bill's sponsor Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, SB 313 will encourage private investment and level the playing field by making government entities adhere to the same rules that private companies follow when establishing communication networks.

"This bill will allow for robust competition in the communication marketplace and encourage continued economic growth throughout our state," said Rogers in a statement. "By extending our long-standing commitment to policies that encourage private investment and market-driven competition, we are putting the needs of our citizens above those of government."

Christopher Mitchell, a director of the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a well known critic of proposals like SB 313, thinks that if the bill were to become a law it would enable large incumbents to tie up any community network with expensive legal challenges.

Georgia, of course, is not the only state that's been grappling with the anti-community broadband bills as similar bills have been proposed in North Carolina and Tennessee with heavy backing from incumbent service providers like CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and AT&T (NYSE: T).

For more:
- Government Technology has this article

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