It is inherently dangerous to a democracy for all of its telecommunications infrastructure to be held in the hands of unelected and unaccountable private actors with no obligation to behave in a nondiscriminatory manner. Municipal networks by their nature answer directly to the local community and their policies are subject to scrutiny and modification by public action, if need be at the ballot box. The preservation of a system of mixed public and private ownership of telecommunications infrastructure is essential to maintaining the free flow of information unfettered by the economic interests of dominant private actors. ,
High Tech Companies Oppose Bill to Limit Internet Investment in Georgia
Several high tech companies and trade associations have sent a joint letter to Georgia legislators to oppose HB 282, a bill designed to limit investment in Internet Networks.
The letter has already been signed by Alcatel-Lucent, Google, Atlantic Engineering, Gigabit Squared, OnTrac, FTTH Council, American Public Power Association, NATOA, SEATOA, Utilities Telecom Council, and the Telecommunications Industry Association. The full letter is available here [pdf]:
Dear Chairman Parsons:
We, the private-sector companies and trade associations listed below, urge you to oppose HB 282 because this bill will harm both the public and private sectors, stifle economic growth, prevent the creation or retention of thousands of jobs, hamper work force development, and diminish the quality of life in Georgia. In particular, HB 282 will hurt the private sector in several ways: by curtailing public-private partnerships; by stifling the ability of private companies to sell equipment and services to public broadband providers; and by impairing economic and educational opportunities that contribute to a skilled workforce from which businesses across the state will benefit.
The United States must compete in a global economy in which affordable access to advanced communications networks is playing an increasingly significant role. As Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski recently noted in calling for broadband providers and state and municipal community leaders to come together to develop at least one gigabit community in all 50 states by 2015, “The U.S. needs a critical mass of gigabit communities nationwide so that innovators can develop next-generation applications and services that will drive economic growth and global competitiveness.”The private sector alone cannot enable the United States to take full advantage of the opportunities that advanced communications networks can create in virtually every area of life.
As a result, federal and state efforts are taking place across the Nation, including Georgia, to deploy both private and public broadband infrastructure to stimulate and support economic development and job creation, especially in economically distressed areas. HB 282 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.
Consistent with these expressions of national unity, public entities in Georgia and across America are ready, willing, and able to do their share to bring affordable high-capacity broadband connectivity to all Americans. Enactment of direct or effective barriers to public broadband initiatives, including HB 282, would be counterproductive to the achievement of these goals. HB 282 is also inconsistent with America’s National Broadband Plan, which calls on States to remove existing barriers to community broadband initiatives and to refrain from enacting new ones.
We support strong, fair and open competition to ensure that users can enjoy the widest range of choices and opportunities. HB 282 is a step in the wrong direction. It is bad for Georgia’s communities, bad for Georgia’s private sector, particularly high-technology companies, and bad for America’s global competitiveness. Please oppose HB 282 and any amendment or other measure that could significantly impair community broadband deployments or public-private partnerships in Georgia.