Tales of the Sausage Factory

Will Minnesota Senate Screw Duluth's Chances of Getting Google Gigabit Project?

As reported by Christopher Mitchel from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Qwest has scored quite the little victory in its efforts to keep itself the world safe from real competition socialism. A state Senator and a state Rep introduced a bill that would have made it easier to for local governments to build municipal networks. Right now, it takes a local referendum vote with 65% to authorize a locality to build a network that offers commercial telephone service (and therefore any “triple play” broadband access service — or so they read it in MN). A State Senator and State Rep offered a bill to reduce the threshold on the referendum to a simply majority. By the time the relevant jurisdictional committee was finished, the revised bill included one of the favorite incumbent roadblocks to localities: a mandatory “feasibility study” designed to be so onerous and expensive to conduct that few local governments will want to even try.

Meanwhile, the good folks of Duluth are so desperate for real broadband that they made this joke video to get citizens to show support for bringing Google Gigabit Fiber project to town.

Question for the good Senators and Representatives of Minnesota: when you’ve got folks clamoring for real broadband, do you really want to be “protecting” your underperforming incumbent? By “clarifying” that your referendum law applies to any indirect provision of telecom service, and imposing a five year plan on municipalities, you are making it very hard for your local governments to — in the words of Duluth’s mock Public Service Announcement — “suck up even harder” than the competition. While I am hardly privy to Google’s secrets and innermost workings, I am willing to bet real money that when they weigh where to set up their pilot project, they will consider any possible legal landmines. Would you want to set up shop in a city where Qwest or some other provider might sue to block your use of city assets under the amended state law? Even if Google were to ultimately prevail, it would tie up the deployment in litigation. Who wants that, when the number of communities begging for Google to come and work its fiber magic keeps growing?

Mind you, there’s a good argument that even this version of the bill is better than the current law. Dropping the referendum requirement from 65% to a simple majority will do a lot of good even with the feasibility study requirement. But should that really be the choice? Don’t the people of MN deserve the better bill, without throwing (yet another) bone to Qwest to reward its failure to provide what people want and need?

So folks in Duluth, and other communities in MN trying to get Google Fiber, you might want to ask Qwest’s buddies in the legislature to cut y’all some slack and pass the original bill without the study requirement. that would send a signal that MN is serious about bringing broadband to its citizens and would welcome the sort of public/private partnership that Google appears to be offering. Or perhaps the MN legislature is just rooting for the people of TopekaGoogle,” KS instead of the folks in Duluth.

Stay tuned . . . .

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Stevens Bill III– The Bad Stuff (Munibroadband)

The Stevens Bill contains a section called “Municipal Broadband” (Title V) and calls itself the “Community Broadband Act of 2006.” Given that that McCain and Lautenberg introduced a pro-munibroadband bill in 2005 called “The Community Boradband Act of 2005,” and that the House overwhelmingly adopted language identical to the McCain-Lautenberg language in COPE, you might think that I would put Title V in the “Good Parts” section.

GOTCHA! That clever Senator Stevens, who apparently has confused the definition of “competition” and “cartel” (Hey, they both begin with “C”! He’s old! Give the man a break!), has tricked you! Like predators in nature that camoflage themselves to look like pretty flowers before they SPRING UPON THEIR HELPLESS PREY AND DEVOUR THEM, The Stevens “Community Broadband Act” will allow local governments to give gobs of money to private companies, but will not allow local governments to do something as outrageous as compete with private companies.

Impressed? Amazed? Astounded? Well see below . . . .

Read More »

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Quick tag to Ensign Bill

For those who care about public access (or PEG channels). The bill keeps these (up to four channels, rather than a broadband set aside as some folks have negotiated for), and tells the state authority to delegate some local government entity to have authority to ask for the channels (you only get ’em if your local government asks for ’em). The bill also keeps a franchise fee of up to 5%, but the fee must be cost based rather than negotiate (i.e., the local government has to show how much it spends on digging up the streets and associated public rights of way issues).

Jim Baller, all around smart guy and lawyer extrodinaire for municipalities and municipal networks, has his take on the anti-muni provision of the Ensign Bill here.

Stay tuned . . .

Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: “Return of the Telco Legislation” Now Playing in Indiana

Hardly has the new year begun when new legislation has been introduced to squash local municipal systems. This time in Indiana. Like any good nemesis, the incumbent telcos and cable cos have learned from the Pennsylvania fight and have “improved” this bill to include more noxious features and to try to hide them better. But fear not, gentle reader, all such machinations shall be revealed below.

Read More »

Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)
  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register