Communities are increasingly organizing to build modern communications networks with the goal of bringing inexpensive and fast Internet service to their residents and local businesses. It is ironic that Texas prides itself on being a haven for freedom but has some of the most restrictive laws among the states regarding who can provide Internet service. The lone star state protects the incumbent big businesses, stifles the free market, and hampers innovation. Current Texas laws causes higher prices and lower quality service.
As part of a 2000+ page bill passed in 1995, Texas prohibits local municipalities from obtaining the necessary permits to offer Internet service. It is interesting that even though the federal Telecommunications Act of 1997 barred states from prohibiting any “entity” to provide telecommunications service, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a municipality was not an “entity” for this purpose.
As Governor Perry travels out of state to convince businesses to move here, rural communities are left without access to broadband networks, even though they are essential to economic development and attracting jobs. “Communities are stuck — they can’t get private firms to build fast networks, and because of HB 2128, they can’t do it themselves.”
It is time to deal with the unintended consequences of past efforts – Why would we restrict important resources such as Internet service from being provided by any method the free market produces? Why would we allow just a few large companies to dictate how, when, and where Internet service gets delivered? Texas should allow the free market to create innovative solutions to decide these important issues, not the entrenched corporations.Special thanks to Suzanne Bowers, Chief of Staff for State Representative Jodie Laubenberg and Becky Johnson, Reference Librarian at the Texas Legislative Reference Library for providing valuable information and research on this topic. More links and information: Statutes: