KCC approves Chanute public broadband proposal

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Corporation Commission has approved the city of Chanute’s request to issue bonds that will allow it to buy equipment and extend ultra-high speed Internet service to area homes and small businesses.

The commission’s approval on Tuesday was the last requirement before the city could offer service with a download speed of 1 gigabit, at a cost of about $40 a month for city residents. That’s 14 times faster and 60 percent cheaper than the fastest Internet service currently offered in Chanute, a southeast Kansas town of about 9,200 residents, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1AnPOSB ).

The city needed the commission’s approval because a 1947 law requires the commission to review municipalities’ plans to issue bonds to construct, expand or improve service.

The KCC staff had recommended approval because the service the city will offer is superior to broadband service provided by AT&T and Cable One in Chanute.

AT&T had asked to intervene in the case but did not file any testimony in opposition before Tuesday’s meeting.

Chanute officials say AT&T and Cable One have declined to install fiber networks because Chanute is too small to guarantee profit.

The city already provides fiber broadband service to government buildings, some businesses and the local hospital and community college and city parks are covered with free Wi-Fi. City officials say the network is the main reason the town is growing while other rural Kansas towns struggle.

The commission decision comes after the city and Kansas City, Kansas, worked together to stop a bill before the Legislature earlier this year that would have prohibited public broadband systems throughout the state. The bill’s supporters said cities and counties, which don’t pay taxes, were unfair competition for private-sector Internet providers.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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