Kansas Considers Banning Municipal Broadband
Kansas Considers Banning Municipal Broadband

Kansas Considers Banning Municipal Broadband

If you live in the U.S., you probably pay a lot for cruddy Internet. Big cable companies like it that way, which might be why legislation like this bill to outlaw municipal Internet has been introduced in Kansas to the outrage of local residents.

“If I was a cable company, I would be praying this bill would pass,” Mitchell says. He adds that if enacted, the measure would virtually eliminate any possibility that the incumbent cable providers — mainly Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable — would face competition.

Among other provisions, the law would prohibit municipalities from offering video, telephone or broadband service in any “unserved” area. It also would prohibit municipalities from leasing, buying or operating any facility that would enable private businesses to offer broadband, video or telecom service in unserved areas.

The measure defines “unserved” quite narrowly: areas where at least 90% of households have no access to any sort of broadband service.

Existing municipal broadband networks, including the 1 Gbps network that Google launched in Kansas City, would be allowed to continue operating. But the bill seems likely prevent Google from creating any new networks.

The measure reportedly was submitted on behalf of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association, according to Ars Technica.

Kansas isn’t the only state to consider limiting muni broadband. More than a dozen states have some sort of laws that restrict cities from building their own networks. But none of those restrictions are as sweeping as ones being contemplated in Kansas, according to Mitchell.

A state committee is scheduled to take up the bill next week.


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