AT&T, Comcast don't want community broadband networks

AT&T and Comcast don’t want local governments creating Internet networks for their taxpayers.

Such networks are “poorly run and ultimately bankrupt,” Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said Wednesday.

Testifying at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on video competition, Cohen and AT&T Senior Executive Vice President John Stankey pushed back on pressure to let local governments create Internet networks, despite state laws that often ban them.

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When pressed by community-broadband supporter Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cohen said that local governments should be allowed to create Internet networks, but Comcast “will advocate at the municipal government level that we think this is a mistake.”

“We have serious questions about municipalities getting into the broadband business,” Cohen said.

Stankey echoed Cohen’s concerns, adding that AT&T doesn’t “believe that private companies should compete against tax-subsidized” Internet networks.

Markey fought back, arguing that allowing local governments to build Internet networks would increase competition, decreasing the need for government intervention.

“More competition is the answer to all of our problems,” he said. “The smaller the number of competitors, the more regulators you need."

The focus on community broadband projects comes after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler pledged earlier this year to work with local governments to build Internet networks despite prohibitive state laws.

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