The State of Kansas could often be said to be one of those places where torturing your residents just makes sense. While the work against women, children, the disabled, schools and others continues, the state of Kansas Legislatures took on a new target: Stop Google Fiber. And not just google fiber, make sure that cities cannot invest in any broadband network technologies.
Except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not, directly or indirectly: (1) Offer to provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications or broadband service; or
(2) purchase, lease, construct, maintain or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications or broadband service to one or more subscribers.
Let me explain what this means. When a new provider comes into a market, they generally want some assurances; the right of way from a city, use of public right of ways, and yes, they in many cases will go for city buy ins, like tax incentives or the use of public space for property.
This is VERY true in rural communities, where without city governments investing, there is no broadband internet at all, and in Kansas City, where Google received tax and city help in laying lines and services.
Now, the state of Kansas wants to make sure that the best kind of competition is.. no competition.
The first problem is the definition of unserved. A proper definition of unserved would involve whether the identified area has access to a connection meeting the FCC’s minimum broadband definition delivered by DSL, cable, fiber-optic, fixed wireless or the like. These technologies are all capable of delivering such access. However the bill also includes mobile wireless and, incredibly, satellite access. As we have noted on many occasions, the technical limits of satellite technology render it unfit to be called broadband, even if it can deliver a specific amount of Mbps. Satellite just does not allow the rapid two-way transmitting of information common to modern Internet applications. Mobile wireless comes with high costs, prohibitively low monthly caps, and often only works in some areas of a rural property. This is not a proper measure of having access to the Internet.
By arguing that access to a cell phone = internet access, many areas of Kansas will be stuck with NO internet services, and cities may find themselves in hot water, being forced to get out of the internet business for their citizens.
Chanute has established its own fiber optic network for government use and as a service to local businesses. The city is exploring the possibility of expanding fiber optics to most homes in the community for possible automated metering infrastructure and to provide cable, internet and phone service to individual homes. The expansion of the fiber optic network would cost the city $20 million and would need a subscription rate of 34 percent of Chanute households to break even in three years, based on information shared at Monday’s luncheon.
City officials have approached communications provider AT&T about installing a fiber optic network in Chanute, an idea AT&T had no interest in when approached in 2009, Gates said.
USD 413 Superintendent James Hardy said he is impressed with the current fiber optic network provided to schools by the city.
Cities which have built out networks, using public funding and businesses to help finance their access, which provides for schools may find themselves on the wrong side of the law, and may suffer reduced funds if they don’t get out of the service.
Kansas families and students, who already suffer with internet connectivity issues may find themselves with near little to none.
I guess, in the mind of state legislators and our governor, who really needs the internet, right?
7:40 PM PT: This piece of legislation may be coming to a state near you. It’s an ALEC proposal.