Next Century Cities signed a letter to Virginia House Commerce and Labor Committee Chairman Terry Kilgore and to Missouri Senate Local Government and Elections Committee Chairman Dan Hegeman opposing two proposed bills.
Virginia House Bill 2108 (HB 2108) would effectively ban public and public-private broadband networks. Missouri Senate Bill 186 (SB 186) would virtually ban local choice, and is essentially identical to a bill proposed last year, HB 2178, which did not pass. If enacted, the bills would harm both the public and private sectors, slow economic growth, prevent the creation and retention of jobs, and diminish the quality of life in Virginia and Missouri.
“The U.S. needs affordable access to advanced communications networks in as many communities as possible, as rapidly as possible, so that innovators can develop next generation applications and services that will drive economic growth and global competitiveness,” the letters state. “Unfortunately, in many communities… particularly in rural areas, the current communications service providers are unable or unwilling to invest in advanced communications networks rapidly enough to enable the communities to stay abreast of their peers elsewhere in the United States and around the world. ”
The letters were jointly signed by Atlantic Engineering, CTC Energy & Technology, Fiber to the Home Council, Google, Indeed, Internet Association, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Netflix, Next Century Cities, Nokia, OnTrac, Telecommunications Industry Association, Ting Internet, and Utilities Technology Council.
UPDATE: On February 7, 2017 the Virginia House voted 72-24 to pass HB 2108 with some revisions. The bill no longer regulates deployment, but it does still adhere to its main purpose by dictating that information from publicly owned networks must be made open to anyone. On February 13, 2017 a further revised version of the bill passed the VA Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Restrictive language was largely eliminated from the bill, and it is no longer opposed by some local and public interest groups. For more information read this blog from Community Broadband Networks.