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Kansas municipal broadband: Major bill may need language rewrite, limit Google

A court house with white columns and clear sky
A court house with white columns and clear sky
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A Kansas municipal broadband bill is one major legislation that could have some serious effects with its signing, including an overall limiting of Google Fiber expansion in the future in such regions as Kansas City and Salina. The document was formally submitted this week by the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA) to the state senate for legal review, though it has since been withdrawn for language rewrites. The Epoch Times reports this Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, that a number of eminent companies are included in the bill’s workings, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Eagle Communications, and Cox.

The Kansas municipal broadband legislation was drafted by the KCTA and initially scheduled for official discussion next week on Tuesday, Feb. 4. However, the president of the association has recently revealed to Ars Technica that the group is now asking that the hearing be postponed for certain revisions, including a “language rewrite.” The board for the interconnected group congregated this Friday after a number of stories were published for the public about the new bill, prompting them to verify whether any written modifications were necessary.

According to official John Federico:

”Some tweaking of language is necessary in the bill, in particular how we are defining unserved areas.”

With the legislature possibly limiting Google Fiber expansion in the near future and affecting thousands of people, such language rewrites need to be specific, added the report. This “tweaking” is said to include revamping a particular section that highlights an exemption on the ban for “unserved” regions to acknowledge the role that certain satellite TV companies play. At the current time, the bill alleges that cities in the area are now allowed to “offer or provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications, or broadband service” … save for “unserved areas,” stated as places where 90 percent of households lack overall access to an available broadband service, whether it be ”fixed or mobile, or satellite broadband service.”

“Admittedly, that definition was overly broad,” noted Federico in the recent statement. “The cable lobby’s board members continue to stand firm in their belief that scarce taxpayer dollars should not be used by municipalities to directly compete with private telecom providers … Scarce taxpayer dollars should not be used by municipalities to directly compete."

According to the company’s press release on the Kansas municipal broadband bill, this new document might very well have a major impact on the expansion of emerging broadband network known as Google Fiber. Fiber has been praised as not only a very fast service, but one that also ably offers television and Internet broadcasting to users with estimated speeds surpassing 100 times that of the average. As of Friday, the network stands as a modified pilot program that might be developed to the rest of the U.S. in the not-so-distant future.

“Lastly, Federico claimed that Google never came up during board discussions, however, and that the new bill doesn’t necessarily target the company.”