Kansas Cable Lobbyists Deny Hatred Of Google Fiber, Will “Tweak” Restrictive Bill Language

Cable lobbyists seem to be buckling under the pressure of consumer unrest in Kansas. Last week, the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association announced a protectionist bill that would all but squash some city’s hopes of getting improved broadband service.

On Monday, the KCTA, whose members include Cox, Time Warner Cable, and Eagle Communications, said they would “tweak” the bill’s language to make it less restrictive, Ars Technia reports.

While it wasn’t specified how the language would be tweaked, officials with the board maintain the bill was created with the protection of consumers in mind.

KCTA president John Federico told Ars Technica the board stands firm on their belief that municipalities should not use taxpayer dollars to directly compete with private telecom providers.

Under the bill’s (PDF) current language, cities and towns may not provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications, or broadband service, with the exception of unserved areas. The bill goes on to define unserved as an area where 90% of the households lack access to broadband service.

The bill also garnered attention for its restrictions on public-private partnerships, that could prevent future broadband programs, similar to Google Fiber, from operating in the state. Kansas City is home to the country’s first Google Fiber municipal network, which is in direct competition with Time Warner Cable in the area.

Federico denied the bill had anything to do with Google entering the telecommunications fray in Kansas City.

Kansas City laid out significant incentives for Google to come hook up their city to a speedy, reliable network. Existing broadband providers like Time Warner Cable did not particularly appreciate Google’s receiving those incentives. Cable companies in general are not exactly fans of municipal networks. And yet the added competition among broadband carriers, or even the specter of it, works out well for consumers.

The bill was scheduled for discussion Tuesday, but KCTA members said they would ask for a postponement.

Other states have attempted similar legislation in recent years; a bill barring municipal broadband in Georgia failed to pass in 2013.

Cable lobby will “tweak” bill banning municipal broadband in Kansas [Ars Technica]