Communications providers including AT&T, Windstream, Time Warner Cable and Comcast are pushing for a ban on municipal broadband in Georgia, a stance that's drawing the ire of activist group ColorofChange.org.
Legislators in Georgia on Thursday were slated to vote on a bill that would bar local government from building broadband networks, "even when private industry has failed to provide broadband access to poor and rural communities," said ColorofChange.org Executive Director Rashad Robinson.
"Black and rural communities are already greatly affected by the lack of access to quality high-speed Internet service," Robinson added. "Giving Big Telecom even greater control over our ability to connect online would further deepen existing inequality, and risk leaving a large segment of Georgia’s residents permanently outside the modern Internet-driven economy."
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Time Warner Cable, Windstream, Comcast and AT&T are leading the charge against municipal broadband in a number of states. In Georgia, specifically, Windstream is at the forefront in favor of the bill that would outlaw new public broadband service in census tracts where a private company offers some kind of broadband. But mayors and county boards say private companies refuse to improve or build those networks, putting the onus on municipalities to expand access to broadband.