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June 27, 2005 Monday 10:28 AM EST


Two U.S. senators are seeking to stop states from prohibiting local governments from taking steps to offer broadband to residents.

Already 14 states have acted to keep municipalities from using tax dollars to compete with private broadband companies.

The moves came in response to municipalities seeking to offer broadband services as they already offer utilities.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., have proposed legislation that would prevent states from outlawing municipal broadband service while requiring cities to regulate their own broadband services the same as they regulate competitors, IDG News reported Monday.

For example, a municipal broadband service would have to pay the same franchise fees as other providers.

McCain said the U.S. ranks 16th among nations in broadband penetration.

"This is unacceptable for a country that should lead the world in technical innovation, economic development, and international competitiveness," McCain said. "As a country, we cannot afford to cut off any successful strategy if we want to remain internationally competitive."