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Kansas legislators are trying to pass a bill that been denied in several other states, Senate Bill 304 will attempt to block any competition to current ISPs in the state, keeping local communities to only a few providers with slow connections to choose from.

Salvador Lopez Jr., is a junior Computer Information Science and Mass Media major, [email protected]

Kansas legislators are trying to pass a bill that has already been denied in several other states, Senate Bill 304 will attempt to block any competition to current ISP’s in the state, keeping local communities to only a few providers with slow connections to choose from.

A community that wishes to have access to a private or public ISP to receive video, telecommunications or broadband services, will not be able to because any private or public ISP that is not already in place ‘can not directly or indirectly offer or provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications or broadband service.’

Bill 304 will greatly reduce competition for Internet service providers that provide any type of connection in a given community. The major ISP’s in Kansas are AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter and Cox. The downspeed between these providers varies between .5-50Mbps, which is not bad. Actually Charter and Time Warner Cable speeds are quite decent, if you are within the service area.

But these speeds do not compare to the potential speeds that are achieved with fiber optics or with newly developed network technology. Google Fiber in Kansas City can reach speeds up to 1 gigabit (1000Mbps).

I tested my ISP to check my downspeed, it averages about 12.46Mbps. In order to download a full-length HD movie my connection would take up to 11 minutes, as where if I could access a gigabit provider I could download the same movie in seven seconds.

One community opposed to Bill 304 stated that it would keep them from utilizing their own fiber optic network. USD 413 and the city of Chanute has in place a fiber optic network that is capable of reaching at least 30 percent of their population within the next three years.

Having the infrastructure such as this can attract more businesses to a city, provide faster Internet schools and give consumers more options when choosing an ISP. Chanute is not the only city currently trying to gain access to a better Internet connection, the city of Lawrence also has fiber optics and some users have shown downspeeds of 800.6Mbps.

“We need to pay attention to what is happening in Lawrence,” said Fritz Helbert, a member of the Washburn University Student Computing Association. “Because what happens there will affect the rest of the state.”

The FCC has a “minimum transmission speed” of a 3Mbps downspeed, most ISPs in Kansas surpass that limit but the speed do not compare to the capability of having a fiber optic infrastructure. Southern California users are being offered a data cap of 5Gb a month service plans and have seen prices increase because of the lack of competition for ISPs with faster networks.

“People really care about their Internet,” said Helbert, suggesting that passing legislation that protects already established ISP from being forced to upgrade their networks. “This bill is designed to to eliminate the competition that other services can provide.”

With access to faster more reliable Internet, our communities can progress in nearly every field. Schools will be able to give their students high-speed Internet at a lower cost. Businesses can process customers transactions quicker and make their facilities more efficient. Most importantly, it will allow consumers options when they are looking for an ISP and rely on fast Internet speeds.

Senate Bill 304 is set to be heard by the Senate Committee on Commerce on Tuesday, Feb. 4 in downtown Topeka. Stay connected to find out more as this story develops.

“All the movement is online. The information about the bill, Senate members and the awareness groups are all online,” said Helbert.

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If you are interested in reading the bill for yourself or would like to see what a few of the tech giants have to say about Bill 304. Follow:

http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2013_14/measures/documents/sb304_00_0000.pdf

http://www.kansansforbroadbandaccess.com/JointOppSB304.pdf