UPDATE:Broadband Bill Meeting Canceled

KSCB News - February 3, 2014 8:14 am

UPDATE: Senator Julia Lynn, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, announced this morning that the hearing scheduled for tomorrow on SB 304 has been postponed.The following is her complete statement:

"This is how our process was designed to work," stated Lynn. "Based on the concerns I heard last week,I visited with industry representatives and they have agreed to spend some time gathering input before we move forward with a public hearing."

"I have decided to cancel the meeting planned for this week, and we’ll revisit the topic when some of these initial concerns have been addressed," Lynn concluded.

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Community broadband service would be banned under a bill that will come before a Kansas Senate committee Tuesday.

A lobbyist for the cable TV industry introduced the bill. It would prohibit cities and counties from building public broadband networks and providing Internet service to their businesses and citizens.

Commerce Committee chairwoman Julia Lynn says she doesn’t think it’s fair for government to compete with private enterprise for broadband customers. The Olathe Republican noted that municipalities don’t have to pay property or franchise taxes.

But committee member Tom Holland, a Baldwin City Democrat, says underserved several small towns in his district are considering setting up networks and that the bill would "just about shut that down.

One unintended consequence of the bill is that it’s currently written so that cities could not lease public facilities, like utility poles and water towers, to companies for the purpose of delivering telecommunications service to their customers. This provision would cost cities millions of dollars each year that they currently collect by leasing public property to telecom providers, and could dramatically change the level of coverage throughout the state. Additionally, cities may not be able to offer Wi-Fi in public buildings, build broadband systems for industrial parks, or use fiber to read electric meters, a cost-effective strategy that saves local governments and taxpayer’s substantial amounts of money.

 

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