CLIC Speaks Out Against Missouri’s HB 2078 as a Barrier to Local Net Choice

On February 3, 2016, at a hearing before the Missouri House Committee on Utilities Infrastructure, CLIC joined 12 prominent private-sector companies and national associations in delivering a strongly worded letter denouncing Missouri House Bill 2078. If passed into law, HB2078 would superimpose additional restrictions on Missouri’s existing limitations on municipal provisioning of broadband service and would also impair the ability of localities to form public-private partnerships to bring modern broadband to underserved communities.

How communities deploy modern broadband networks “are fundamentally local decisions that should be made by the communities themselves, through the processes that their duly elected and accountable local officials ordinarily use for making comparable decisions,” the letter states. Communities “should also be able to use their own resources as they deem appropriate to foster economic development, educational opportunity, public safety, and much more, without having to comply with the restrictive bottlenecks that HB 2078 would impose.”

“This bill will harm both the public and private sectors, retard economic growth, prevent the creation or retention of jobs around the State, particularly in rural areas, hamper work force development, and diminish the quality of life in Missouri,” the letter continues. “This bill is bad for Missouri communities, particularly rural communities, bad for the private sector, particularly high-technology companies, and bad for America’s global competitiveness.”

The other signatories on the letter were the American Public Power Association, Atlantic Engineering Group, CTC Technology & Energy, the Fiber to the Home Council, Google, the Internet Association, NATOA, Netflix, Next Century Cities, OnTrac, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the Utilities Telecom Council. Collectively, these organizations represent the Nation’s 2000 public power communities; hundreds of municipalities and counties; the fiber industry; utilities of all kinds; scores private-sector telecommunications equipment companies, systems builders, and advisors; and major high-tech companies that depend on widespread, affordable broadband Internet connectivity, such as Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Facebook, Pandora, Paypal, Reddit, Salesforce,Yahoo!, and many others.

At the hearing, representatives of West Plains, Carl Junction, Sikeston, Fulton, Marshall, Rolla, Springfield, and Carthage, Missouri, testified against the bill, as did a representative of Google. CenturyLink, AT&T, and the Missouri Telecommunications Association supported the bill.