Local News

Proposed Regulations of Municipal Telecom to be Studied

Posted July 25, 2007 10:58 a.m. EDT

— Legislation that would place restrictions on communities trying to offer Internet and other telecommunications services to their residents has been referred to a study committee.

House Bill 1587 would require cities or counties to charge taxes for such services so their rate structure is comparable to that of a private service and would bar them from pulling employees from other departments to work for the cable or Internet service.

Cable companies backing the bill have said government has an unfair advantage selling such services. But communities like Wilson, which is spending $30 million to wire the city for high-speed Internet, said they are often overlooked by cable providers.

Search-engine giant Google and other technology companies backed the communities' position, saying the bill "threatens to undermine prosperity."

Lawmakers will study the issue for the next year.