A new bill in the state house is trying to limit Holland’s ability to provide fiber internet service.
Specifically, it seeks to prevent cities from using “any federal, state, or local funds or loans to pay for the cost of providing qualified Internet service.”
The bill was introduced by Michele Hoitenga of Manton who believes government shouldn’t compete with private ISPs, telling Michigan Radio “I feel strongly that this needs to either be stopped or it needs to, at least at the very minimum, go to the vote of the people within the area.”
Rep. Hoitenga is obviously unaware of a couple key facts:
All of the money for Holland BPW’s project comes from their operating budget. No tax money is used. Also, the BPW runs their broadband services sustainably, reinvesting profits into the network. They have been providing broadband services to businesses for 25 years.
Maybe Holland would want to use tax money somewhere in the future (maybe to provide free access to low-income residents for example).
Rep. Hoitenga seems to believe we have 37 ISPs serving the City. Anyone who lives here knows we effectively have two: Comcast and AT&T. Neither provide gigabit fiber to residents, and where they can offer fiber, it is not affordable. BPW’s gigabit fiber will be 10x faster than these providers at a lower price. Plus, BPW is building an open-access system that other ISPs can use.
We know what Holland residents and businesses are clamoring for BPW to provide better service. We see that in the signups downtown, and in the amount of interest from the rest of the area.
This bill threatens to derail Holland’s project, and will hurt other Michigan cities. BPW staff members met with Rep. Hoitenga last week, and plan to testify before the committee, which could be next week.
If you are interested in helping, reach out to state representatives and senators. Give them the facts and let them know that this bill is bad for broadband. Need some facts? Here are a few quick ones:
Other coverage that goes more in-depth:
Ars Technica - Republican fight against municipal broadband heats up in Michigan
DSLReports - Michigan Introduces New, Awful Bill to Ban Community Broadband
Community Networks - Anti-Muni Bill In Michigan Pulls No Punches
Michigan Radio - Bill would bar Michigan communities from using public money for internet infrastrucure
Techdirt - Michigan Lawmaker Doesn’t Understand Her Own Bill Hamstringing Broadband Competition
International Business Times - Telecom Lobbyists Fund Lawmaker Who Sponsors Bill To Ban Municipal Broadband
Stop the Cap! - Mich. Lawmaker Seeks Ban on All Community Broadband Networks
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