Feb. 22, 2005 – State Senator Steven J. Rauschenberger has introduced legislation in the Illinois General Assembly that would prohibit government entities in that state from deploying municipal broadband access. The bill would prevent government agencies from competing with the private sector in establishing local networks and is similar to a Pennsylvania law established last December granting automatic priority to incumbent broadband service providers in offering wireless broadband access in a municipality.
State legislators in Colorado and Texas are also weighing initiatives to hinder public internet services from encroaching on the market share of corporate service providers. The growth and accessibility of wireless and broadband technology in recent years has intensified the political debate over the role of government versus the dominant telecommunications concerns in building local networks.
Advocacy groups like the Center for Digital Democracy and the New America Foundation, which support community-based and public wireless networks as a way to enhance education and civic participation, argue that such legislation bolsters telecommunications monopolies.
Meanwhile, conservative think tanks, along with industry players such as Comcast and Verizon, oppose government-sponsored public networks. Telecom industry advocates argue the public sector would offer ineffective services and should not interfere with private ventures, except to enable them.