CLIC Organizes Opposition to Missouri’s SB186 As a Barrier to Local Net Choice

On January 23, 2017, CLIC and 14 prominent public and private-sector companies and associations opposed (again) a Missouri anti-community broadband bill, SB 186, that amounts to a virtual ban on local Internet choice. SB186 would impose 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.

Described by the letter’s signatories as “ harming both the public and private sectors, stifling economic growth, preventing the creation or retention of jobs around the State, particularly in rural areas, hampering work-force development, and diminishing the quality of life in Missouri,”  SB186 is the third attempt in three years by various Missouri legislators to deny local Internet choice to the state’s local businesses and residents. In 2015, and 2016, Missouri communities, with CLIC’s assistance, derailed HB437 and HB2078 respectively.

CLIC’s letter of opposition was co-signed by: Atlantic Engineering, CTC Energy & Technology, Fiber to the Home Council, Google, Indeed, Internet Association, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Netflix, Next Century Cities, Nokia, OnTrac, Telecommunications Industry Association, Ting Internet, and Utilities Technology Council. Collectively, these organizations represent thousands of public and private utilities of all kinds; hundreds of municipalities and counties across the nation; the fiber industry, dozens of private-sector telecommunications equipment manufacturers, systems builders, and advisors, and major high-tech companies that benefit from the widespread affordable access to advanced broadband networks, including Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Pandora, Paypal, Reddit, Salesforce, Yahoo! and many others.

The central message of CLIC’s letter was that bills like SB186 are not only bad for communities, they are bad for the private sector, particularly the high-tech industry, and bad for the ability of America’s workers to be utilized in the global marketplace. It emphasized that local government entities in Missouri, like their counterparts across America, have a huge stake in ensuring that all Americans have prompt and affordable access to the benefits of advanced communications capabilities.

“These 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. They 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 SB 186 would impose.”

You can view the letter here.