Municipal broadband bill shot down by state house - CBS46 News

Municipal broadband bill shot down by state house

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DAWSONVILLE, GA (CBS46) -

The Georgia House of Representatives voted down a bill that would have prevented some cities from offering public broadband service. House Bill 282, dubbed the Municipal Broadband Investment Act, failed 70-94 Thursday night. 

Its sponsor, Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, said he hoped to spur private enterprise by preventing local cities and authorities from interfering.

Critics including local leaders, consumers and some private tech companies criticized the bill as bad for rural Georgians who are largely dealing slow Internet speeds.  

Windstream Communications lobbied for the bill which, if it had passed, could have eliminated a source of competition to the television, phone and Internet provider. 

The company has long been criticized for offering slow Internet service to rural customers who have no other Internet provider options.

Mark Creekmore, a computer consultant from Dawsonville, said his service crawls in the afternoons leaving him unable to work from home sometimes.

"Sometimes it comes to a halt," said Creekmore.

Creekmore is frustrated that the company continues to add customers, potentially slowing his service even more.

"I'm not getting what I'm paying for," said Creekmore. 

A Windstream employee in a company retail office in Dawsonville told an undercover CBS Atlanta photographer that the company can offer Internet speeds up to 24 Mbps. He guaranteed service no slower than 6 to 12 Mbps.

CBS Atlanta News learned the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection is investigating Windstream Communications for possible violations of consumer laws.

A Windstream representative said the company is spending $14 million to upgrade service to two-thirds of Georgia communities it serves.

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