Kansas Municipal Broadband, Legislation introduced in the Kansas state legislature by a lobby for cable companies would make it almost impossible for cities and towns to offer broadband services to residents and would perhaps even outlaw public-private partnerships like the one that brought Google Fiber to Kansas City.
Google Fiber isn’t exactly a free-market success story.
The Senate bill doesn’t list any lawmaker as its sponsor, and there’s a reason”a Senate employee told us it was submitted by John Federico on behalf of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association, of which he is president.
That’s a lobby group with members such as Comcast, Cox, Eagle Communications, and Time Warner Cable. The bill was introduced this week, referred to the Committee on Commerce, and scheduled for discussion for Tuesday of next week.
The telco-written bill starts out pleasantly enough, saying its goal is to “Ensure that video, telecommunications, and broadband services are provided through fair competition consistent with the federal telecommunications act of 1996″ to “encourage the development and widespread use of technological advances in providing video, telecommunications and broadband services at competitive rates; and ensure that video, telecommunications and broadband services are each provided within a consistent, comprehensive, and nondiscriminatory federal, state, and local government framework.”
But instead of promoting development in broadband networks, the bill actually limits the possibility of them being built. Here’s the key passage:
Except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not, directly or indirectly:
(1)ƒOffer or provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications, or broadband service; or
(2)ƒpurchase, lease, construct, maintain, or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications, or broadband service to one or more subscribers.
A municipality would not be able to offer broadband “through a partnership, joint venture, or other entity in which the municipality participates,” the bill says. The city or town also would not be able to use its powers of eminent domain to condemn any facility “for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications, or broadband service to one or more subscribers.”