Upcoming Broadband Legislation from The Swamp

Broadband is all the Washington rage these days. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has become something of a techie celebrity and there's a bunch of bills in Congress set to change the way we approach broadband. Here's a quick run-down of the big ones to keep an eye on.

Community Broadband Act of 2007 (S. 1853)

A big hat tip to Frank over at Comcast Issue for reminding me about this one. This bill explicitly authorizes municipal authorities to provide telecommunications services. From the bill:

No State or local government statute, regulation, or other State or local government legal requirement may prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, any public provider from providing advanced telecommunications capability, or services using advanced telecommunications capability, to any person or any public or private entity.

In effect, it makes the Municipal Cable Television and Public Telecommunications Services Act allow any political subdivision or agency to provide service. That means that unincorporated townships like mine would have a green light to jump on in and depending on interpretation, it might bind the state from continuing to try and bind up UTOPIA.

The bill had been stalled for some time but made it out of committee to the Senate floor less than a month ago. Now is the time to write your Senators and get them behind this bill pronto.

Broadband Census of America Act of 2007 (H.R. 3919)

Now here's a crazy idea: maybe counting broadband coverage by ZIP Code isn't all that accurate. To that end, Congress decided that, hey, using ZIP+4 would be a lot better. The bill would also collect data on what speeds are being offered in each ZIP code, which tiers are being subscribed to and how these numbers compare internationally. It's a shame that it takes a literal act of Congress for the FCC to do a decent job keeping these statistics.

The bill has currently passed the House by voice vote (no way to see who voted which way) and is ready for the Senate. It passed from committee and has a calendar date, so it's time-critical to get those letters out before it comes to a vote.

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