By Sara Jerome - 04/04/11 07:29 PM EDT
Clyburn, a Democrat, said of the bill: "This piece of legislation certainly sounds goal-worthy, an innocuous proposition, but do not let the title fool you ... it will discourage municipal governments from addressing deployment in communities where the private sector has failed to meet broadband service needs."
She panned efforts by some communications companies to promote the bill, arguing that it runs counter to the goals of the National Broadband Plan, the Federal Communications Commission's agenda for connectivity over the next decade. Opponents say the cable industry is fueling the legislation.
Clyburn also raised concerns that similar bills may advance in other legislatures.
"My home state of South Carolina has similar legislation pending, and the state of Arkansas is contemplating a complete ban on publicly-owned broadband facilities," she said.
The digital divide could widen in the wake of such bills, Clyburn suggested, arguing that "no American citizen or community should be left behind in the digital age."
Proponents of the bill say government money devoted to broadband often results in overbuild in areas where service is already available. They also point to the billions the industry has invested in advanced networks to say taxpayer dollars in this area would be wasted.