Wednesday, January 16, 2019

House Passes Rural Broadband Bill

Speakah of the House Phillip Gunn issued the following statement.

Today, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and members of the Mississippi House of Representatives passed House Bill 366, the “Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act.” The bill passed by a vote of 115-3.

“I’m proud of the House for stepping up to provide a solution to our constituents who need and want access to broadband,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “We have put in a lot of work on this issue and had numerous meetings with all parties affected. The lack of access to broadband is a serious issue that touches people in all corners of our state.

“This legislation includes provisions designed to protect the rate payer and provide transparency,” he continued.

Highlights of the legislation are below:

1. Every Electric Cooperative of Mississippi (ECM) is authorized to provide broadband services via an affiliate company.

2. ECMs cannot use revenue from energy sales to subsidize broadband ventures.

3. Before broadband may be offered, each ECM must conduct an economic feasibility study and develop a plan showing how the ECM proposes to provide broadband service to its customer.

4. ECMs cannot require any person to purchase broadband services, and the purchase of broadband services cannot be a condition to continuing to receive electric power service.

5. ECMs must conduct an annual audit to ensure compliance with the law.


bill said...

Here we go. Federal tax dollars for the start up costs, but that's okay because it's free money, right? Just like the matching funds for Medicaid. It's not really coming from us as long as it's from the feds. Don't worry that the coops don't have a clue how to deliver broadband, and their insistence on trying to do it could jeopardize their very existence. The state will be happy to bail them out if that happens, and then we won't mind that our tax dollars are being used because the coops will have achieved TBTF status.

Should the IRS be looking at their tax status, though? Businesses at that level that are granted tax exempt status are usually expected to stick to their knitting and only provide their core services. The coops should expect to be treated like big, diversified companies if they're going to act like them.

Anonymous said...

Those that typically pay for a feasibility study (economic) generally pay for having the study say what they want it to say. Oh, that's right, I guess the study is another cost the coop member-owners will have to cough up.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I bet you're fun at parties. Why don't you read the fine print before you make a bunch of senseless assumptions.

Cynical Sam said...

I have no problem with this bill and it's provisions. I do always smile when I see the term "broadband." Yes, there is a definition in the bill, but it is still vague, just like "high speed internet."

If you have AOL dial-up, then DSL/ADSL seems lightning fast. If you have DSL/ADSL, then cable seems uber fast. If you have cable, then Gigabit fiber is like a trip to the moon.

Regardless, follow the money.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Legislature pass a tax credit a couple of years ago for internet providers to bring broadband to these rural areas? How did that work out?

Anonymous said...

Nearly all of the broadband Internet network infrastructure was paid for with federal funds. The telecoms and cable companies made a lot of promises and failed to meet most of them.

It was paid for by the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 aka the Gore Bill

I'm not a fan of Al Gore but he was vital in stimulating the Telecoms to invest in broadband.

Anonymous said...

This seems to be a good start -- particularly when it serves to energize current providers (who like to leave large rural areas unserved) to get off their arses and think about partnering with the EPAs when/if they do this.

11:17 -- lots of precedent elsewhere in the country for this type of effort and the IRS isn't really affecting that. The telcos and cable providers are the folks who want it stopped and they're losing more and more legal fights trying to do so.

The EPAs don't have to pay for the information they need to start their feasibility study -- they can jointly ( or separately) issue a Request For Information (RFI) to industry seeking sources, methods, and technologies for doing this -- at no cost. Any industry source (including current providers of broadband services) will be happy to respond if they smell revenue/business down the road in the form of future technical/business analyses, partnering, and subsequent competitive proposals.

12:01 -- the definition of broadband is no longer so vague. It's currently set by the FCC at 25 megabits/second down and 3 megabits/second up.

Anonymous said...

Will I have to post a 3-month bill's worth DEPOSIT before they will sign me up for broadband? Will there be some nebulous $$ customer charge per month to pay?

bill said...

11:29, I didn't know I was going to have to read. Why don't you just enlighten us with what you know? You're obviously much smarter than I am.

Cynical Sam said...

@1:05 PM - Thank you.

High Performance Computing Act of 1991 - So Algore did invent the internet. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

$850,000 a year is quite an eye-popping compensation package for one person.

Anonymous said...

Bill .. seems there are a lot of folks smarter than you who can read and interpret sentences. You must work for some telcom company who is fighting this bill tooth and nail. Educate yourself and then come back and apologize for the lies.

Anonymous said...

You must work for some telcom company who is fighting this bill tooth and nail.

Guessing you are serious which makes your comment even the more laughable.

The Telecoms aren't fighting this bill tooth and nail. The vote in the House wouldn't have been 115-3 if they were.

They'll deploy 5G and then price these EPA/ECM boobs right out of business. Years from now they'll purchase the fiber assets for pennies on the dollar out of a bankruptcy court.

You are a FOOL to believe otherwise.

Anonymous said...

A fairy tale that will have a bad ending. Brandon Presley's Kemper pipe-dream moment. Will be fun to see which of the journo-opinionists jump in to carry Presley's heavy water like Bill Crawford and others did for Haley Barbour/Kemper.

Anonymous said...

There is a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes.......

Anonymous said...

Fool at 5:16pm

5G will not serve much of these markets for a long time, in the way it is being rolled out. It will be only marginally faster than 4g, although latency will be lower and it probably won't serve as a home internet service. It will make phones better in rural areas but the way 5G works in urban areas using mult-band high frequencies can not be used in rural areas because of the low distance limit of high frequencies.

Wireless simply is not an option with current and known technology for the average home internet use.

This bill is a good thing

Anonymous said...

What is the definition of an “affiliated company”? A common scam run by entrenched directors of ECMs is the formation of LLC’s partly owned by directors as individuals, or their family members, to provide some type of service to the ECM. For example, a director can take a few acres of land and put a solar array on it and then charge back the ECM for “capacity” Once constructed the solar array can just sit there and become weed covered and rot away, but the ECM pays an ongoing reserve capacity fee to the LLC. Does this legislation prevent a director from forming a broadband LLC and charge back management fees to the ECM?

Anonymous said...

If you think 5G solves rural broadband, I’ve got timber leases to sell you.

5G generally uses millimeter wave technology. It doesn’t work well past local line of sight. It’s not like LTE. It operates in the gigahertz spectrum, not MHz.

Go back to reading contracts or bitching about your kid’s private school instead of talking about something you know nothing about.

Anonymous said...

1:05 There are five other active House Bills that mention "broadband" for capital investment and tax credit purposes, and they amazingly define it as >= 384 kbps. That is practically AOL dial-up modem speed. Looks like telcos want a tax break for perpetuating existing POTS & DSL infrastructure. 25 Mbps download threshold needs to be explicit or this is just a tax giveaway.

Anonymous said...

I love how KF puts up just enough info to get everyone fired up and then just sits back and watches the fire burn. There is so much info in this bill but you would need to actally red it and that is too hard. Easier to just comment feelings as fact in a comment thread. FYI: no MS tax money will be used. Ever. The Federal money is going to be spent on this issue no matter what MS does. Why not get some here?
Brandon Presley is a snake.

95% of the people this bill is meant to effect will not get this service. They will concentrate on higher density populated areas first to make the financial part work.

Use common sense: If you could make ANY money by running fiber for internet in rural areas, AT&T or XFinity would already be there.

But whatever, I am now what I hate. Just another mad comment poster changing nothing but KF possible advertising revenue.


Morgan and Morgan said...

Anywhere from 3 to 9 members "per-mile" of coop lines...... the cost per member, that is, if every member participated, would be astronomical. Maybe a F E A S I B I L I T Y study will prove differently. This is a bill that during an election year has the potential to smear the bloated legislative cess pool that votes against it. also, 8:12 Right On. There is something coops don't subscribe to.... corporate ethics. Say, Wouldn't a F E A S I B I L I T Y study have been good basis to reference "Prior- to" introducing a bill????

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how well 5G is going to work inside an old trailer? Mississippi per capita has the highest number of mobile home dwellers in the nation. And cell phone service has never been very good inside an old metal clad mobile home. The further you get from a tower, the worse the signal loss is inside.

While they are considering the unique needs of every other ethnic and gender minority under the sun, won't somebody think of the poor trailer trash?

Anonymous said...

The federal dollars available makes creation of these networks affordable. There are already products that are easily added to the distribution and main lines to get broadband to rural houses. The cost is much lower than burying fiber but it is fiber.

Actually, fiber could be offered all the way to the end user in a rural environment and offered affordably (with the federal monies to pay the up-front costs). Instead of just running fiber to trunks and going copper from there, fiber all the way to the home would be game-changing for rural broadband.

Before someone bitches about spending federal money on such, if you live in the city, your fiber AND cellular structure was subsidized by the federal government.

Anonymous said...

At 6.09. Pressley was against Kemper. He got that one right, ended up being a boondoggle.

Anonymous said...

$19 Trillion in debt and growing....CDBG $ have Soooo improved our rural areas. Keep propping up the dead rural areas that obviously can no longer manage or maintain their own existence were it not for gov't hand-outs. This is no different.

Anonymous said...

Both of these comments are incorrect.

It doesn’t work well past local line of sight.

... and it probably won't serve as a home internet service.

The two posters of those comments above don't know what they don't know.

Don't listen to the ignorant.

Mr. Haney said...

If Phillip Gunn has taken over $100,000.00 of campaign contributions from the epa's , did those monies come from the coop's profits on the backs of their members?

Anonymous said...

House Bill 425 (2015)
(As Passed the House)

Well folks, the coops ie: good ole boys seem to have been way out front on protecting (in stone) their little fiefdoms...

Anonymous said...

7:39 -- "And cell phone service has never been very good inside an old metal clad mobile home". You're right -- that's why wireless home broadband installations for homes (including mobile homes) almost always include a small external antenna on the home that is used to provide the interior routers/modems/computers with a better signal than they could get with a hand-held phone.

I don't believe this broadband effort is meant primarily to help phone users. They get lots of service from current 3G & 4G wireless infrastructure although more and better service is always good. I think the real benefit will be for folks with laptops, desktops, digital audio/video and other computing equipment, especially those folks who use them for rural business and telecommuting purposes...

Anonymous said...

@9:49, not sure that a marketing video from a seller is typically the best or most accurate source of information regarding a new technology. Maybe you should post something from an un-biased source and then you can call people ignorant.

bill said...

4:10, can you be more specific? Point out the lies in my post and I'll be glad to defend them or recant if you're right.

Anonymous said...

5G changes everything and will prove HB 366 to be a complete boondoggle. But you go ahead and remain blissful in your own ignorance @12:25 PM.

Anonymous said...

@8:28 AM, put down your crack pipe. The rural areas of MS will never see 5G, and it has a range of less than 1 mile, but line of sight is required. Let me help you with that - line of sight means that the two antennas must see each other.

Boondoggle? No one will be required to implement this. It is "may," not "shall."

OK, pick up your crack pipe now.

Anonymous said...

There appear to be multiple technical approaches for rural broadband expansion. Can anyone spell "airgig"? FTTN? FTTP? Fixed Wireless? What do the EPAs bring to the technical rural broadband equation that existing providers don't -- ubiquitous *powerline* infrastructure. That's all. They're not technically smarter or more well-financed than the existing providers of broadband technical/service/engineering providers.

I greatly respect what EPAs do (I really like dependable electricity on cold nights) but this legislation simply means that, with restrictions and guidance, they "may" seek to get into this line of service. Should that include engineering, installing, and managing a completely new all-fiber-optic infrastructure to every rural consumer premise in their area? Big telcos know how to do that but they don't/won't. Why? Because it's hugely expensive and they can't see the return profit on that investment.

The "winning" EPAs who get into this business will probably leverage partnerships with current large providers and use differing hybrid technologies for carrying broadband traffic and then doing the "last-mile" distribution to consumers. Can powerline, fiber, and wireless (including limited-distance 5G) technologies all play a role in a single EPA broadband system? Sure -- with the right design, partnering, start-up funding, service model, and good oversight. Would a Cadillac (sorry GM) all fiber system be the most desirable -- sure, I love the gigabit fiber connectivity my other family members have in their homes but that doesn't help me a bit out here in the sticks and the telcos ain't gonna come here with it. I'd love a symmetric gigabit connection to the internet -- but I sure as hell will be delighted with a low-latency, symmetric 20 megabit/sec connection. It beats the overpriced, under-performing satellite connectivity I have now.

The EPAs will bring 2 important things to the table -- ubiquitous powerline infrastructure and political weight for partnering to get USDA/federal funding for the startup infrastructure costs -- for whatever gets installed. Now that the legislature has taken the muzzle off the EPAs, I hope they exercise some good judgement and look for good technical and financial solutions. We need them...

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