Press Release

Public Knowledge Backs Maryland Broadband Legislation; Criticizes ‘Misinformation’ on Bill

February 27, 2007 ,

For Immediate Release
Contact: Art Brodsky, 202-518-0020 (o), 301-908-7715 (c), abrodsky@publicknowledge.org

Legislation introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates would benefit consumers across the state by require companies to report broadband deployments and by recommending a non-discrimination policy for Internet services, Public Knowledge testified today at a legislative hearing in Annapolis, MD.

At the same time, Art Brodsky, communications director for Public Knowledge, criticized the amount of “misinformation and disinformation” that is being told to Delegates and their staffs about the bill, which is sponsored by Del. Herman Taylor (D-Montgomery). Among the false claims being made by bill opponents is that the Taylor bill would regulate the Internet and hamper companies like Verizon in the building of their networks.

Brodsky, who lives in the area Taylor represents, told the Economic Matters Committee in a written statement: “If you want to see the future of the Maryland economy, you need to know where, when and how broadband is growing. This bill is squarely within the authority of the state to collect information about services being offered within the state. There is no regulation involved. The fact is we have no way of knowing where those high-speed services are and at what speeds they are offered.”

Brodsky pointed out in his statement that the legislation only recommends that companies like Verizon and Comcast treat their customer services without discrimination because the matter is one for Federal jurisdiction. He noted that the language in the bill is taken from the agreement AT&T signed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take over BellSouth: “We took an idea that is now in effect for telephone customers in more than 20 states, covering two-thirds of the people in our country and said it would be nice if it applied to us, here in Maryland as well.”

The result of such a policy would make the high-speed Internet networks being built by Verizon, Comcast and others more valuable if those companies can't play favorites with services being offered, Brodsky said, so the end result would be to help deployment, not hamper it as the bill's opponents claim.

Brodsky said the massive lobbying campaign mounted against the bill has been “totally out of proportion” to what the bill would do: “It seeks only to be a modest, pro-consumer measure that could have benefits for everyone in this state by letting policymakers and citizens alike know where the advantages of the Internet are going, and by suggesting that we, your constituents, be treated fairly.”

The full statement is available at: https://www.publicknowledge.org/node/841


Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the “cultural bargain” intended by the framers of the constitution. More information available at: https://www.publicknowledge.org