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New Law Would Illegalize City Wi-Fi

Proposed legislation prevents municipalities from launching networks that are "substantially similar" to networks offered by private companies.
A Texas Congressman has introduced a bill that impose a nationwide prohibition on municipally-sponsored networks.

Dubbed by the Author, Representative Pet Sessions (R-Texas), the Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005, the bill prohibits state and local governments from providing any telecommunications or information service that is "substantially similar" to services provided by private companies.

The bill, HR 2726, is similar to a host of state bills pushed by telecommunications companies aimed at fending off municipally-run wireless networks. Some of those bills, most recently one in Texas, have been stalled in state legislatures.

The telecommunications operators say that such networks represent unfair competition while municipalities claim that the services are needed to promote business and close the gap between digital haves and have-nots.

According to Sessions' on-line biography, he is a former employee of Southwestern Bell and Bell Labs. The bill will first be considered by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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