Bill would bar new municipal public networks

Texas Republican Pete Sessions has introduced a bill in the House that would prohibit state and local governments from offering any public telecom or networking services in competition with private companies.

The Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005 (HR 2726) would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ban such public services in areas where the private sector is offering 'a substantially similar service.' The stated goal of the legislation is to keep government out of the telecom business 'except to remedy market failures.'

The bill is a response to a growing number of municipalities that are rolling out public access WiFi networks.

A grandfather clause would allow municipal networks in operation before enactment of the bill to continue in operation.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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