Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Rural Broadband Bill Rushed for Senate Vote

Update (1/23/19): Bill passes Senate without amendment. 

Steve Wilson reported on the Mississippi Center for Public Policy's website:

House Bill 366— which would allow rural electric power associations to provide broadband service to their customers — will reach the Senate floor unaltered from its final House version that was approved on January 15.

Energy Committee Chairwoman and state Sen. Sally Doty (R-Brookhaven) said that one of the reasons why the bill would take effect immediately on passage was an April deadline for the EPAs, also known as co-ops, to apply for federal grants to provide broadband service.

Most bills that become law take effect on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.

There were two amendments that were shot down on voice votes.

State Sen. John Polk (R-Hattiesburg) wanted a 10-year requirement for EPAs to provide broadband to all of their customers.

State Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood) wanted a reverse repealer, which is a legislative tactic which forces reconsideration before it can reach Gov. Phil Bryant’s desk for a signature.

Harkins voted for the bill, despite voicing some reservations on whether the EPAs would serve rural customers and not try to start building a base in more population-dense suburban areas served by EPAs.

Some of Harkins’ suburban Rankin County district is served by EPAs.

“Obviously, if this bill passes, people are going to have the expectation that they’re going to have fast internet service pretty quick,” Harkins said. “Will these companies try to reach the areas that are under served and not dense areas of population?”
Doty said that if the Legislature gives co-ops the ability to provide broadband service, it’ll be their responsibility to manage those expectations. She cautioned a constituent that stopped her in the grocery store about rural broadband.

“It’s not going to be something that’s immediate and is not necessarily going to be in all parts of the state,” Doty said. “This gives us in Mississippi another option to provide broadband services.”  Rest of article.

 The Energy Committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow but held this special meeting today with no notice.  The bill was rushed through the House last week and is scheduled for a Senate vote tomorrow as well.  Make no mistake, the electric co-ops and the legislative leadership flexed their muscle over the last ten days;


Anonymous said...

Beware of Doty

Anonymous said...

Always read the campaign finance reports. Just like the airport deal

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to provide a pros and cons list? More competition is good right?

Anonymous said...

Why do they need permission at all? That's the real question. Take away rights and then grant them back on your own terms, now that's the definition of power.

...And We're Here To Help You. said...

All of this yammering back and forth is ridiculous. It's none of government's business in the first place. Let the market rule. If a co-op wants to venture out and fails, that's the risk they took. If several want to attempt it and succeed, others will pattern their activities accordingly.

Why the hell does government, especially this bunch of yahoos, think it needs to stand in the way of anything that might benefit the people. Mississippi is the only state with this current prohibition. That speaks loudly.

PS: There's no reason to 'beware Doty'. She's correct, numbskull.

Anonymous said...

Why have they not been allowed to before now? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to?

Anonymous said...

The Coops are going to make $$$$$$$ on Pole attachment fees as a way of other revenue income since their systems are not growing. Bottom line and extend internet service to a few wealthy plantation owner board of directors that have griped about not having good service up at the big house....

Anonymous said...

Hunting camp internet for the privileged.

Anonymous said...

Hunting Camp my ass, 9:13. Twenty percent of this state is probably affected by zero or poor service. The population of entire counties are affected. And YOU chirp about the privileged while having your morning bourbon clicked onto the internet.

Larry the Cableguy said...

Internet at hunting camp also allows us low rent rednecks to protect and monitor our stuff from crackheads, thugs, and Chrystal Methodists. Plus allows us to make money while we're having fun. #workhardplayharder

Anonymous said...

Why are people here so negative? Doty along with Commissioner Brandon Presley are doing what she can to help bring broadband to the rural areas which is no easy task.

Anonymous said...

a Hail Mary for co-op revenue enhancement....

Anonymous said...

"Doty (R-Brookhaven) said that one of the reasons why the bill would take effect immediately on passage was an April deadline for the EPAs, also known as co-ops, to apply for federal grants to provide broadband service."


Anonymous said...

9:51- Lets talk again when you get your first bill, then the increases that are sure to follow. And please dont forget these services are heavily taxed.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with grants when they serve a definite and recognized public service, 11:26? Would you rather the rate-paying customers be asked to pony up and foot the bill in increased billings? If there's transparency, a grant is a good thing. The problem with grants has always been disappearing money and reappearing BMWs.

Co-ops are non-profits, but you didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

$5 gets you $10 that the Legislature finds a way to bailout all these rural co-ops when their broadband bets go bad before the Legislature finds a way to reform PERS.

Anonymous said...

Are the "proposed" broadband "affiliates" going to the allowed to crawl all over co-op power poles etc.? I doubt it. Will the "broadband affiliate" have to pay for "their fair share" of ROW services to keep vegetation off lines and poles, dead trees removed, clearing etc? Who will put the fiber back up on the poles when a storm comes along and knocks all the $hi! in the ditch?.... YES YES lets hurry this through the legislature. Ask questions later....

Anonymous said...

I resurrected and updated my earlier comment from a previous post on this subject by KF:

1:26 -- Respectfully, who says that there will be fiber on all of the EPA poles? As far as "... ROW services to keep vegetation off lines and poles, dead trees removed, clearing etc...", that might be an economy of scale that helps to reduce either the cost of the new broadband service or reduce the cost of the new service and provision of existing electric power service (you only have to do it once either way, right?) A new all-fiber network to every home is an excellent possible solution (an expensive one at that) but 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 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 themselves 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/providers already 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 Mississippi 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 would sure as hell be delighted with a low-latency, symmetric 20 megabit/sec connection that works when it rains. 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...

Anonymous said...

When this goes to shit, and inevitably it will, remember that Brandon Presley owns it.

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