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The Ohio Community Computing Network encourages you to oppose Ohio Senate Bill 117 (see below). This bill would eliminate local franchising for video services. There are many ramifications to the passage of this bill including: elimination of PEG access channels (we provide telecourses and share guest speakers on Educational Access), disincentives to build broadband in rural and low-income areas (effecting our ability to serve these areas), removal of local consumer protection (no service requirements, support of community networks, etc.), removal of local control of rights of way (ATT can put a big ugly switcher station on your tree lawn), loss of local revenue, perhaps a quarter million dollars annually in Columbus (pick the City service you want to see cut)

You can learn more about the legislation at Local Voice Ohio. Local voice Ohio represents Ohio municipalities and other community stakeholders. You can use their form to send FAX to your State Senator: Fax Senator. There is a hearing today at the State House for opponents. Calling, emailing or faxing to Energy and Public Utilities Committeemembers is encouraged. They are:

Robert Schuler, Chairperson
Telephone: 614/466-9737

Steve Buehrer
Telephone: 614/466-8150

Kevin Coughlin
Telephone: 614/466-4823

Jeff Jabobson
Telephone: 614/466-4538

Tom Niehaus
Telephone: 614/466-8082

Robert Spada
Telephone: 614/466-8056

Ray Miller
Telephone: 614/466-5131

Lance Mason
Telephone: 614/466-4583

Jason Wilson
Telephone: 614/466-6508

Here is OCCN's position statement:

1) SB 117 eliminates historic avenues of local support for many Community Technology Centers (CTCs), including earmarked PEG support and negotiated community benefit agreements. It also eliminates cities' ability to negotiate free or discount connectivity for our member CTCs and other community nonprofits.

2) SB 117 creates an unacceptable opening for "digital disinvestment" in low-income communities. It abrogates existing community-wide broadband access requirements and forbids new ones -- effectively allowing incumbent cable providers to withdraw service from neighborhoods which they are currently obligated by local franchise to serve. Thus, far from increasing broadband access for underserved Ohioans, SB 117 may ultimately reduce that access.

3) SB 117 offers no offsetting benefits to underserved consumers and communities. There are no provisions in SB 117 to offset the loss of local support opportunities for Community Technology programs; to guarantee the continued availability of services which are now protected by local franchise agreements; or to extend affordable broadband Internet service to the many Ohio communities which now lack DSL and cable Internet access. The so-called "buildout" requirements of SB 117 -- which probably apply only to AT&T -- could be fulfilled without extending fast Internet access to even a single Ohioan who now lacks such access.

Any version of state video/broadband franchising legislation adopted by the General Assembly should require telecom and cable providers to make robust broadband access available and affordable to a large number of currently underserved households and small businesses throughout the state. This bill does not.

OCCN opposes the passage of SB 117 until these deficiencies have been remedied, either by restoring local governments' authority to negotiate enforceable community investment and service agreements with video/broadband providers, or by creating effective statewide mechanisms to accomplish the same purposes.