Google and other tech companies are slamming a proposed Georgia law that would restrict municipalities from building their own broadband networks.
The Municipal Broadband Investment Act (H.B. 282) "will harm both the public and private sectors, stifle economic growth, prevent the creation or retention of thousands of jobs, hamper workforce development, and diminish the quality of life in Georgia," Google and others say in a recent letter to lawmakers in Georgia.
Signatories include Alcatel-Lucent, Fiber to the Home Council and National Association of Telecommunications.
The groups add that the bill "would prevent public broadband providers from building the sorely needed advanced broadband infrastructure that will stimulate local businesses development, foster work force retraining, and boost employment in economically underachieving areas."
The Georgia measure, reportedly backed by incumbent Internet service provider Windstream, prohibits cities from building their own networks in any areas that aren't "unserved." The latest version of the law defines an area as unserved if no one within a census block has access to Web service of at least 3 Mbps. That's slower than the Federal Communications Commission's definition of broadband as 4 Mbps.
The bill cleared a state committee last week, despite testimony against the measure by officials from three cities. One of the opponents, Thomasville Mayor Max Beverly, testified that his city -- which already operates a broadband network -- was planning to boost speeds to 20 Mbps. “Three megabits is not adequate to do functions in a modern telecommunications world,” he said, according to the Georgia Municipal Association, which is opposing the measure.
Backers of the bill say that for-profit telecoms and cable companies can't compete fairly with the government.
But others, including FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, say that lawmakers should focus on removing barriers to broadband networks, rather than promulgate new restrictions.
"Broadband Globe photo from Shutterstock"