Utah bill would stop regional fiber networks from expanding

Source: Ars Technica
Author: Jon Brodkin
Coverage Type: reporting
Salt Lake City, UT, United States

Kansas isn't the only state considering legislation that would limit the growth of government-funded broadband networks that threaten incumbent Internet service providers. The latest such attempt is a Utah House bill called the "Interlocal Entity Service Prohibition," which would prevent a regional fiber consortium from building infrastructure outside the boundaries of its member cities and towns.

While it would affect any such group, the bill seems to be directed at UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency, a consortium of 16 cities that operates a fiber-to-the-premises broadband network. The bill explicitly targets fiber only, not affecting cable or other types of networks. "It actually is aimed specifically at UTOPIA," said the group's legislative policy director, Gary Crane. Crane is also a city attorney for Layton, one of UTOPIA's member municipalities. "I think there's probably a lot of fear in those who hold the monopoly currently in our cities that this model may be a good model for other cities to adopt." The bill, sponsored by State Sen Curt Webb (R-Logan), "prohibits an interlocal entity that provides telecommunication service through a fiber optic network from constructing infrastructure or providing telecommunication service in locations outside the boundaries of its members."



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