A proposed Virginia law called the Virginia Broadband Deployment Act has some pretty high-profile foes: Google and Netflix, which are concerned with the threat the law poses to municipal broadband.
The proposed law sets restrictions on when a community can deploy a municipal broadband service. If local broadband already meets certain speed requirements (10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload) to 90% of its potential customers, municipalities are barred from deploying their own broadband services. Even if the local broadband is slow enough, there are more restrictions and red tape thrown at municipalities that hope to bring high-speed internet to their residents.
The law helps ISPs, but it’s bad news for consumers – as well as for Netflix and Google, which each have clear reasons to fight the law.
Netflix’s reason is obvious: it wants the internet to be as fast as possible everywhere, because that means more areas where its movies and TV shows will stream smoothly (and thus more potential customers).
Google, meanwhile, has itself become an ISP thanks to its Google Fiber service – but it’s an ISP that has a history of working in public-private partnerships to create municipal broadband services. This law would doom a lot of those types of arrangements just as effectively as it limits purely municipal projects, so Google stands to lose some money in Virginia and, potentially, in other states that might see the law as a precedent.
Google and Netflix joined other groups in expressing their opposition in a letter. The bill is in committee right now.
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