Pa. bill could keep broadband stimulus money from local governments
A new bill has been proposed in Pennsylvania that would keep city and county governments from competing with the private sector in delivering broadband services. Thus, governments might not be able to get a piece of the $7.2 billion in stimulus money that is going to broadband projects.
SB530, which is sponsored by State Sen. Patrick Browne (R-District 16), Chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee, essentially prevents the state or any local government from taking stimulus money in order to "compete with the private sector" unless it was related to higher education, maintaining public parks, critical for public safety or any current network already operating. If a community wants a broadband network, it has to ask the local incumbents to build them one. If they accept, they have 12 months to build the network or the local government can built the network itself. If they refuse, a city can build one however it wants.
The state in 2004 passed similar legislation keeping governments from building muni-WiFi networks unless the local incumbent didn't want to build there.