The Register reports…
House Republicans this week proposed legislation that would ban the creation of municipal broadband networks at a federal level, and shutter networks in areas where some private competition exists – purportedly to improve internet access across the US.
Dubbed the CONNECT Act (Communities Overregulating Networks Need Economic Competition Today), the bill [PDF] says: “A State or political subdivision thereof may not provide or offer for sale to the public, a telecommunications provider, or to a commercial provider of broadband internet access service, retail or wholesale broadband internet access service.”
The CONNECT Act would also ban states from operating municipal broadband networks in areas where two or more private operators exist. The language here is fairly vague, and it doesn’t state how affected operators should dispose of their existing infrastructure. It’s also fairly limited about what constitutes a “private operator”, deferring only to the barebones definition in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
The CFR doesn’t define any particular infrastructure technology, other than saying dial-up does not constitute broadband. Plausibly, satellite connections (like those offered by ViaSat and HughesNet, as well as newcomer Starlink) would be included in this catch-all, despite coming with higher costs and lower data caps than traditional fixed-line networks.