Pennsylvania House Bill 30 is currently making it’s way through the Senate in the state of Pennsylvania. It seems like it’s a good thing, ecouraging investment in broadband, supporting voice over IP, and that sort of stuff. But a closer read shows the whole think smacks of corporate interests. In particular, Section 3014, Subsection H (page 70 of the current version as of right now, PN 4778) has the following:
3 (H) PROHIBITION AGAINST POLITICAL SUBDIVISION ADVANCED AND 4 BROADBAND SERVICES DEPLOYMENT.-- 5 (1) EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR UNDER PARAGRAPH 6 (2), A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OR ANY ENTITY ESTABLISHED BY A 7 POLITICAL SUBDIVISION MAY NOT PROVIDE TO THE PUBLIC FOR 8 COMPENSATION ANY TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES, INCLUDING 9 ADVANCED AND BROADBAND SERVICES, WITHIN THE SERVICE TERRITORY 10 OF A LOCAL EXCHANGE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY OPERATING 11 UNDER A NETWORK MODERNIZATION PLAN. 12 (2) A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION MAY OFFER ADVANCED OR 13 BROADBAND SERVICES IF THE POLITICAL SUBDIVISION HAS SUBMITTED 14 A WRITTEN REQUEST FOR THE DEPLOYMENT OF SUCH SERVICE TO THE 15 LOCAL EXCHANGE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY SERVING THE AREA 16 AND, WITHIN TWO MONTHS OF RECEIPT OF THE REQUEST, THE LOCAL 17 EXCHANGE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY OR ONE OF ITS AFFILIATES 18 HAS NOT AGREED TO PROVIDE THE DATA SPEEDS REQUESTED. IF THE 19 LOCAL EXCHANGE TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY OR ONE OF ITS 20 AFFILIATES AGREES TO PROVIDE THE DATA SPEEDS REQUESTED, THEN 21 IT MUST DO SO WITHIN 14 MONTHS OF RECEIPT OF THE REQUEST. 22 (3) THE PROHIBITION IN PARAGRAPH (1) SHALL NOT BE 23 CONSTRUED TO PRECLUDE THE CONTINUED PROVISION OR OFFERING OF 24 TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES BY A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THE 25 SAME TYPE AND SCOPE AS WERE BEING PROVIDED ON THE EFFECTIVE 26 DATE OF THIS SECTION.
This would effectively kill Philadelphia’s WiFi Plan. Why? Because it’s bad news to Verizon who would actually have to compete. I see nothing wrong with a “political subdivision” providing broadband services. After all, if it’s a free market, the local exchange companies would just have to provide better service. But I guess we all know that service and local exchange don’t go together. Anyway, I called my state senator about this already this morning. The person who answered the phone was very helpful (much better than the people I get at the federal level). Let’s hope my phone call makes a difference. If I understand the current standing of the bill correctly, all that needs to be done is approval by the senate and then a signature from Governor Rendell. If you’re in PA and get a chance, try to call today.