(This Post is taken from an article posted on the Stop The Cap Website; Call to Action: AT&T’s Profit Protection Act Resurfaces)

Draft legislation to make community Broadband more expensive and harder to get resurfaced this week in the state Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation, H. 3508, would hamstring communities from setting up fiber networks like the Oconee Focus Project that are attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of new investments from digital economy businesses like Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Lobbyists from AT&T are aggressively pushing the measure to preserve the virtual monopoly they have in South Carolina. The protectionist legislation, which delivers all of the benefits to status quo providers like AT&T inside the Palmetto State, guarantees local officials cannot pitch advanced, community-owned fiber networks to tech companies like Amazon, Google, and other billion-dollar businesses that are expanding across the southern United States.

The implications are so horrific that the South Carolina Association of Counties and the Municipal Association of South Carolina fought the legislation last year. On the ground in rural Orangeburg County, administrator Bill Clark understands first hand the implications of broadband scarcity. He was shocked to discover the bill considers any connection that achieves the the woefully slow speed of 190kbps would qualify as “broadband,”. If AT&T can demonstrate it delivers at least 190kbps service in South Carolina, to just 10% of the population in a given area, the company can claim South Carolina does not have a broadband problem.

The rural citizens of the county stand to loose the most. If just one of your neighbors, a mile or more away can get DSL, then you are stuck. Long Creek, Mountain Rest and Oakway will have to wait for AT&T if this bill goes through unaltered. Let you voice be heard. Below is a list of the Senators that are involved with this legislation. Call now. The bill comes up for review Wednesday of this week. Call or email each of them. Tell them that you do not want the State Legislature protecting the AT&T monopoly a the cost of the citizens of Oconee County.

Points to Share:

  • While South Carolina is tying the hands behind the backs of our community leaders, Tennessee’s community fiber network in Chattanooga just helped that state score thousands of new jobs for an Amazon.com distribution center. Amazon is investing hundreds of millions in the state and local economy, creating new high quality jobs. They chose Chattanooga because it had the digital infrastructure available at competitive prices. Meanwhile, AT&T and other companies do not offer the needed services without lengthy buildouts and prices that are many times more than metro areas like Atlanta or Charlotte.
  • South Carolina has the 9th worst broadband service in the US. What high tech company will consider coming to our state with this sorry state of technology? Private providers have had more than ample opportunity to deliver service themselves, and failed to do so, why can’t local communities decide what is best for themselves, free from special interest interference from big companies like AT&T.
  • Why is AT&T setting the broadband bar so low at 190Kbps? AT&T does not even offer a speed that low. Why are we accepting an antiquated standard as the benchmark for South Carolina? The bar is set so low at 190kbps, it leaves South Carolina in the dust. Our schools, public safety networks, health care facilities, and economy deserve better!
  • Public broadband does not have to risk taxpayer dollars. Successful fiber networks are being built in communities across the country at no risk to taxpayers.
  • South Carolina must compete in the high tech economy. We cannot do that with low speed wireless networks and DSL. H. 3508 is corporate protectionism at its worst and will leave South Carolina without the flexibility to compete with states like Tennessee for future private sector investment. What is more important — protecting AT&T’s incumbent copper wire facilities or attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from private companies like Google and Amazon?

Democrat – Charleston

District 42 – Charleston CountyMap

Columbia Address

506 Gressette Bldg.
Columbia, 29201

Home Phone (803) 798-9220

Business Phone (803) 212-6124

Home Address

P.O. Box 21302
Charleston, 29413

Home Phone (843) 852-0777

Business Phone (843) 813-1777

Send message to Senator Ford

This entry was posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2012 at 8:11 am and is filed under News Updates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.