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Nebraska Use Public Power Initiative (2008)

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The Nebraska Use Public Power Initiative was proposed for but did not make the November 2008 ballot in Nebraska. Supporters threw in the towel in June but said they'd be back in 2010, possibly after mounting a legal challenge of Nebraska Legislative Bill 39.[1]

The initiative, had it gone forward and succeeded, would have removed measures currently banning Nebraska's power companies from using technology that could provide telecommunications, including internet access, to the public, through power lines. The initiative was sponsored by Linda Aerni and Paul Schumacher, both of whom helped bring internet access to rural Nebraska in 1994[2].

Support

Supporters of the proposition stated that Nebraska's phone companies and telecommunications providers at the time had lobbied the government extensively, and were using the government as a tool to prevent competition from power companies with access to new, cheaper technologies. They claimed that new technology maed it possible to get high-speed internet access through a power line, for less money than most people were paying for their internet. The technology had been successfully implemented in areas in several other states. It tended to be somewhat sketchy in rural areas; however, proponents expected the technology to improve quickly, especially if there had been an expanding market for it.[3]

Opposition

Opponents of the proposition stated that allowing public power companies to use new technology would decrease, not increase, competition, because public power companies were the only entities with access to consumers' homes and offices through the power lines that were in question. The power companies would have had a total monopoly over the use of new technology, which could have severely dampened the profitability of other telecommunications providers in the state, potentially causing some such providers to have stopped offering telecommunications services in Nebraska.[4]

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References