Postmortem on Kansas, Utah: What Anti-Muni Net Bills Say about Broadband Competition

A month ago tomorrow the telco/cable lobbyist machine launched an unprecedented assault on communities’ ability to determine their broadband future by attacking the private sector. Twice! Luckily, community and national broadband activists unleashed a swift strike-pivot-strike counterattack that proved effective and seemingly successful.

post mortemNo one believes these battles are done, but broadband advocates feel communities are better prepared for future challenges that are sure to come from incumbents. It is wise to assess what was done in these last 30 days to beat the bills, but more importantly to look at incumbents’ changing behavior in the face of a changing competitive landscape in community broadband.

Incumbents are in a box

Ignore the rhetoric that the public sector should not be spending taxpayer money to enter the broadband business. It’s a diversion to hide who’s really wasting tax dollars. The combine taxpayer dollars invested in all of the community nets don’t even begin to rival the tax dollars local and state governments have subsidized telcos and cablecos to deliver fiber broadband WE HAVE NOT SEEN (as described in this interview)!

The real issue here is competition. Not unfair competition. Any competition is something to be destroyed, in the eyes of large incumbents. They are single-minded, relentless and ruthless in that pursuit. Think Mongo. In Kansas on January 27 and a couple weeks later in the Utah statehouse, three bills reared their ugly heads in a dramatic change in strategy that aligns with the real motive – a drive to nuke competition.

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