Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Protect Muni Broadband Networks

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Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Jared Golden (D-ME) joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to revive the Community Broadband Act. The measure would override state laws preventing local governments from running their own broadband networks.

“Our bill will help give local governments the necessary flexibility to meet the needs of their residents by removing onerous barriers to creating more municipal broadband networks and expand access to the internet for every community,” said Booker. Golden added that towns like Calais and Baileyville in Maine “are taking matters into their own hands and investing in their own broadband infrastructure with great success.” He said the legislation “would help more local leaders take the same proactive approach to build out affordable, reliable broadband in their towns, and protect projects already underway in the states across the country.”  

Nineteen states have passed laws that either restrict or prohibit outright local communities from investing local dollars in building their own broadband networks, according to the lawmakers. These laws shield incumbent internet service providers from competition and tie the hands of communities that want to improve broadband options or build-out to unserved areas which private providers refuse to connect. A recent study from New America’s Open Technology Institute found that community-owned ISPs are offering higher speed and lower prices than incumbent ISPs.

The Community Broadband Act is endorsed by several organizations, including the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the Utilities Technology Council and Next Century Cities.

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