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Digital Destiny Petition

To the Honorable Members of Virginia’s General Assembly, This compiled list of Friends of Municipal Broadband request your representation in protecting the rights of their local communities to control their own digital destiny by rejecting HB #2108 (Byron) and any future legislation that that threatens the rights, authorities, and privileges granted to local government through the Virginia Wireless Services Act of 2003. Specifically, we take issue with the current proposed legislation’s efforts to:

  1. Restrict funding for municipal broadband entities from all public bodies and political subdivisions.Without initial public funding sources, Municipal Broadband entities simply cannot exist.
  2. Ensure that Municipal Broadband Entities do not build anywhere that is currently being serviced. Unserved areas that would be eligible are defined by a 10mb/s shared connection!This makes providing an open access network virtually impossible AND 10mb/s is not even a high enough threshold to be defined as low level Broadband (25mb/s). This level of service definitely does not meet business customer needs or attract new economic development to the state.
  3. Remove all protections around proprietary information and trade secret Because most municipal broadband entities are designed to be budget neutral and/or self-sustaining community investments, typically in underserved and economically disadvantaged regions, this change alone effectively kills all VA municipal broadband entities and future prospects. And, in doing so hands over the fate of Virginia’s future economic position to unregulated private Internet service providers.
  4. Require rigid, arduous, and unnecessary processes to restrict operating capacity and efficacy(including some regulations that take effect even prior to a community forming a new authority!) One example: The proposed legislation requires a comprehensive study that details out specific underserved areas, meet’s private sector ISP’s threshold of approval, and is paid for 100% by the locality or affiliate.
  5. Require state level approvals from the Virginia Broadband Advisory Committee but the members include lobbyists and private sector executives looking to protect their organization or client’s bottom line.  The committee was never designed to serve an oversight function…

Of course there is a lot more – Please reference the annotated copy of the bill  for your deep dive review and consideration.