Monday, April 18, 2005

Just Say No to Government Building the High-speed Information Super Highway

The Texas Legislature is putting its final touches on a telecom bill. As you might expect, there is intense lobbying going on by both industry and consumer groups, with each hurling accusations at the other, and each claiming the moral high ground about what is “best” for consumers.

Also, as you might imagine, there are controversial provisions in the bill. One of the most controversial provisions is one that would forbid municipalities in Texas from building municipal broadband networks. In other words, making it illegal for cities, counties, or regional associations of cities to go into the broadband business.

This provision has been pushed at the state level in a number of states by the usual suspects: the large telecom and cable companies. It’s also opposed by the usual suspects: “consumer” groups. And now it’s being pushed in Texas, and looks to be included in the aforementioned telecom bill.

But the main reason that a ban on municipal networks is in the telecom bill is that it’s a very good idea to make it illegal for Texas municipalities to do something stupid. And municipal broadband networks are a very bad idea.

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