Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why All Kansans Should Oppose SB 304

SB 304 is an act that purports to safeguard investments in Kansas telecommunications.  Instead this bill makes it impossible for cities and counties to bring broadband investment into their communities.

The bill makes it illegal for cities and counties to "purchase, lease construct, maintain or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entities to offer, provide, carry or deliver video, telecommunications or broadband service to one or more subscribers"

Under this bill, Google Fiber would not have been allowed to make use of unused fibers in Kansas City.  Instead, Google would have to have installed all new duplicate infrastructure throughout the community.

This bill also makes it impossible for municipalities to build their own networks.  Chanute, KS has an extensive fiber-optic network that they have used successfully to attract businesses to their community.  They built this network because the incumbent telecommunications providers refused to upgrade their systems siting "a lack of demand".

Chanute is looking at expanding their network to include households throughout the community.  Under this law they would be unable to do this.  Residents of Chanute would continue to have the choice of awfully slow DSL service or horribly slow cable service.

We can all agree that in most cases cities and counties know what is best for their communities.  Unlike our state government, cities and counties don't have huge budget shortfalls.  They don't engage in divisive partisan politics and they work hard to bring quality services to their constituents.

This bill takes home rule authority away from the very people who are best positioned to help their communities join the information age.  The Kansas legislature owes it to their constituents to preserve this authority and allow cities and counties to develop and implement Internet systems either on their own or through joint partnerships with companies like Google.

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