Michigan Internet Trouble

Day 18 – October 19th

A few days after writing about Michigan and a day after writing about the FCC’s newest roadmap to dismantle net neutrality, my state has garnered unwanted attention because of a terrible bill championed by Michigan Freshman Representative Michele Hoitenga. The bill, likely written by ISPs, tries to prevent communities from building their own broadband networks instead of using one of the big 3 players in Michigan: AT&T, CenturyLink, and Charter.

I hope you just understood that last sentence, because there is so much wrong with this bill and it just goes to show how corrupt our lawmakers can be.

In many of the smaller towns, localities have to rely on incredibly slow internet connections either through satellite or one of the big 3 players mentioned above. When I say slow internet, I mean it. Most small towns in Michigan only have 2mbs DSL – that is early 2000’s slow.

This is due to the lack of competition in these duopoly regions caused by protectionist legislation that ensures that ISPs only do the bare minimum in these markets. As the internet is now considered by many to be a right and a need instead of a luxury, towns and cities have to get creative if they want faster internet for their residents, since obviously the market has failed to meet their needs. Some municipalities, such as Sebewaing, Holland, and Lyndon have created their own broadband services because residents were frustrated with sub-standard broadband by the major companies. But instead of improving services to meet the needs of the customers in those regions, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Charter are instead targeting and paying local governments to try to pass a law that is terrible for Michigan residents. This law would give residents no choice but to use services sold by big ISPs, no matter how slow they may be.

I can’t emphasize how corrupt and anti-consumer this bill is. There is absolutely no plus side for residents of Michigan. This bill proclaims that local communities cannot use federal, state, or even their own voter-approved funds to invest in even the most basic internet infrastructure – even when there are no ISPs in the region. That’s right – this bill would make it illegal for pockets of Michigan that don’t currently have any ISPs to get internet, unless an ISP chooses to start their service in that region. I’m serious. You can read the entire bill here.

Apart from the disastrous nature of the bill, the language is even sloppy. Check out a snippet from the bill below:

SEC. 13B. (1) EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN SUBSECTION (2), A LOCAL UNIT SHALL NOT USE ANY FEDERAL, STATE, OR LOCAL FUNDS OR LOANS TO PAY FOR THE COST OF PROVIDING QUALIFIED INTERNET SERVICE. (2) A LOCAL UNIT MAY ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT WITH 1 OR MORE PRIVATE PARTIES TO PROVIDE QUALIFIED INTERNET SERVICE. (3) AS USED IN THIS SECTION, “QUALIFIED INTERNET SERVICE” MEANS HIGH-SPEED INTERNET SERVICE AT A SPEED OF AT LEAST 10 MBPS UPSTREAM AND 1 MBPS DOWNSTREAM.

“At least 10 MBPS Upstream and 1 MBPS downstream“. Anyone that knows technology even a little knows that this is a huge typo in up/down stream rates. It is so clear that this bill was thrown together by private ISPs and given to a rubber stamp politician to pass.

Michigan, please don’t let this pass. Call, email, and tweet at Representative Michele Hoitenga and tell her that this bill is not good for Michigan residents, no matter how much money she is getting paid to pass it.

Her Phone #: (517) 373-1747

Her Email: MicheleHoitenga@house.mi.gov

Her Twitter: https://twitter.com/michelehoitenga?lang=en

Let’s stand up against this. Until Tomorrow!

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