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Conservatives shift in public broadband fight. Advantage: consumers

Gigaom

“I am absolutely Republican, and absolutely pro-business,” stated State Senator Janice Bowling of Tennessee’s 16th District. “Yet if we don’t get high-speed internet into small towns and rural communities, there will be no businesses in those areas.”

Getting high-speed internet access into more communities is influenced often by the politics of broadband. Could those politics be shifting for public networks?

Conservative legislatures were primarily responsible for state laws restricting public-owned broadband networks. Senator Bowling’s recent comments on Gigabit Nation, though, indicate attitudes among conservative legislators representing rural and small communities may be evolving to create a greater bipartisan drive for change. “We don’t argue with incumbents’ profit motives, we just can’t continue to be held hostage to their profit margins.”

Early in the 2014 session of the Tennessee legislature, Senator Bowling was a primary voice among a mostly Republican group of legislators who worked hard to overturn this state’s…

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