22 Jan Introducing a bill to help cities build their own, public Internet services
Sen. Cory Booker is leaping into the political fight over whether to let cities build and operate their own Internet service.
On Thursday, the New Jersey Democrat will introduce a bill that would help local towns set up public alternatives to big Internet providers such as Comcast or Verizon. It would amend the nation’s signature telecom law — the Communications Act — to make it illegal for states to prohibit municipal broadband through new regulations or state legislation.
Booker said more cities should aspire to be like Chattanooga, Tenn., which offers public broadband plans at speeds of 1 gigabit per second for $70 a month. But many are held back, he said, by “industry that wants to maintain monopolies in many ways.”
Allowing cities to invest in high-speed fiber optic networks would stimulate economic development and access to education, Booker added.
“That’s what created the Internet in the first place, is government-led investment in certain areas,” he said.
Booker’s bill, the Community Broadband Act, seeks to counter other attempts by the GOP to strip away federal regulators’ authority to promote city-run broadband. Republicans and other critics of municipal broadband say such projects are often subject to cost overruns at the public’s expense.