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Bill Would Prevent State Efforts to Limit Muni Broadband

In the latest volley in what has been a blitz of broadband bills, some House Democrats are trying to block states from passing laws limiting municipal broadband buildouts.

But Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jared Polis (D-CO) have teamed up on the Community Broadband Act, which would prohibit states from "writing laws that inhibit local governments from building their own broadband." They says that would simply be preserving the right to broadband self-determination.

Related: Muni Broadband Gets Mixed Results in Local Elections

The bill is the second in a series of broadband bills Eshoo signaled this week were in the pipeline. She is former ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee and remains active on communications issues. Doyle is the current ranking member.

"All too often, communities around the country struggle to get service from private providers, and where people can get service all too often it’s too slow and costs too much," said Doyle. "Communities that build out their own broadband networks offer competitive options that not only bring service to the unserved, but also promote competition in underserved areas."

ISPs have long argued that such buildouts targeting the "underserved" often result in overbuilding commercial providers with government subsidies and leave taxpayers holding the bag if those buildouts can't make it as going concerns.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.