Is South Carolina Bill Aimed at Killing Municipal Broadband?

Author: Ray Chandler
Columbia, SC, United States

Bills in the South Carolina would compel service networks owned and operated by government entities to observe the same operating rules that private service providers have to go by.

The government entities providing a service directly to the public are required, for instance, to make the same document filings, observe the same rules on rights-of-way, pay the same franchise, consent, or administrative fees, regulatory fees, occupation taxes, pole attachment fees, and ad valorem taxes. Oconee County administrator Scott Moulder said the legislation could effectively kill Oconee County’s project to construct about 245 miles of broadband cable. The project would be funded by a $9.6 million federal stimulus grant awarded last year for extending broadband service into areas now unserved because private providers did not find it financially feasible to extend their infrastructure there. A similar project, also federally funded, is under way in Orangeburg County. Moulder said complying with the legislation would be difficult. Compliance with the intricacies of the bills should they become law would come into play only if Oconee County entered the market as a direct service provider, said Rep. Bill Sandifer who sponsored the bill.


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