Tales of The Sausage Factory: PA HB 30 Now Law *sigh*

Gov. Rendell signed HB 30 into law an hour before the deadline last night (11/30). In a last minute deal, VRZN agreed to waive its right of first refusal against the proposed Philly municpal wifi system. Rendell promises to work with other municipalities to the extent their systems are “viable” to “ensure that they succeed.”

I’ll have more analysis later, including what I think is the likely aftermath in both PA and for other states. Short version: we did surprisingly well for organizing from ground zero the week before Thanksgiving. We have also put a spotlight on the issue of municpal broadband systems (and wireless in particular) that will take this out of the back rooms and turn it into a real issue for public debate.

A copy of Rendell’s statement on the ban and a link to the full text of the statement below.

Stay tuned . .

From Gov. Rendell’s message to the State Legislature on siging HB 30.

Municipal Ban

There are communities across the state, such as Kutztown, which have taken the initiative to develop an integrated telecommunications network that provides advanced telephone and cable television service. There are other communities, ranging in size from Perryopolis to Philadelphia that are attempting to launch wireless networks-Wi-Fi networks as they are known in the industry-which will enable their residents to have high speed connection to the Internet.

Early versions of House Bill 30 precluded communities from developing their own networks. The final version of the bill allows existing municipal systems to continue to operate and provides local governments and authorities

a one-year window to develop these networks.

Municipalities that are providing telecommunications service through a municipally owned or created network as of January 1, 2006 can continue to offer and provide the services “to the extent and scope” that these services were provided before that date. After that window closes, municipalities must offer the incumbent telephone company the right of first refusal to provide the proposed service. Then, the municipality can proceed with its proposed network only if the ILEC waives it’s right of first refusal under this act.

Verizon has already agreed to waive its right of first refusal in regard to Philadelphia’s proposed municipal Wi-Fi network guaranteeing that that particular project can proceed. They have done so in a signed agreement with

the City. We will work with other municipalities on projects that they have established or propose to establish in order to ensure that, to the extent

that they are now viable, they will also have the opportunity to succeed.

One Comment

  1. Well,

    I guess we should take some comfort in small steps forward, even if victory eludes us.

    I’m proud to have hosted your articles on this; Wetmachine/Tales of the Sausage Factory is starting to gain some prominence as a place people turn to for info on these issues. Readership last month was our highest ever.

    Let’s keep up the good fight.

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