Monday, March 21, 2005

Brashear the Technology Basher

by Kyle Michaelis
As rural Nebraskans seek-out access to broadband Internet service, one man stands firmly in the way of their taking advantage of existing infrastructure to get it - State Sen. Kermit Brashear of Omaha. The AP reports:
A state lawmaker is trying to head off pending legislation that would allow local governments from competing with telephone and cable companies by offering cut-rate broadband service. The broadband bill (LB 645) was offered by Omaha Sen. Kermit Brashear.

He said allowing municipalities, which can issue tax-exempt bonds, to compete for broadband customers "would place private providers at a tremendous disadvantage in an industry in which competition is fierce and margins are thin..."

Telephone and cable companies are pushing bills in legislatures across the country aimed at keeping local governments from competing with them to offer broadband - a wide spectrum of products that includes Internet access, cable television and telephone services.

Consumer advocates say the big companies have avoided building broadband systems in many rural areas and have put the cost of broadband out of reach for many low-income people.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association said the cost to consumers for broadband generally ranges from $30 to $70 a month. Mark Cooper, of the Consumer Federation of America, said local governments can build and operate systems that could offer broadband for $10 a month or less.

So, even though private providers show little interest in offering service to Western Nebraska, Brashear is going to rob these people of the one cost-effective alternative that could already be available to them. Meanwhile, he's going to continue to allow companies like Time Warner Cable here in Lincoln to charge an insanely exorbiant price of $50/month for internet service by closing off a ready-made competitor in public power that could offer service at half that price, maintaining unnecessary elitism in internet access.

This bill, and Brashear's entire corporate agenda, are targeted squarely at screwing over Nebraska's working families. Technology will eventually be able to bring us all closer together and close the information/communication divide between economic and geographic haves and have-nots, but corporate interests will do everything in their considerable power to see it doesn't happen.

With Nebraska's proud tradition of public power, we know better. We must fight against Brashear's selling out our childrens' future and embrace with hope rather than fear the promise of a better tomorrow through affordable techonology in all our lives.


Anonymous bernie said...

good overview on this mess... Thanks!

linking ya up from the LB!

Anonymous elsmith said...

Thanks for the research and time you put into this. I want to know more about how our state officials are blocking economic progress, for the sake of 'private interests'.


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