Paradoxically, the incumbents argue that public sector broadband is both an unfair competitor and obviously an inferior service doomed to failure in the market.
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When the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill written by the cable and telephone industry (with help from ALEC), they probably didn't expect AT&T to turn around and slash its local workforce.
And yet, that is what AT&T has done: "Hey North Carolina, thanks for that monopoly, hope you don't mind if we move a bunch of jobs down to Alabama."
We had just published our report on how Time Warner Cable and AT&T bought anti-competition legislation in North Carolina when we heard the layoff news.
Unfortunately, there is no real surprise there -- the big telecom firms are much better at slashing jobs than creating them. The increased profits from the consolidation that creates such big firms arise specifically from eliminating jobs. To AT&T, the workers in Greensboro are inefficient. After all, AT&T is a global company -- those call service jobs could be done in Birmingham or India.
If the networks serving Greensboro and surrounding communities were locally owned, particularly if owned by the communities themselves, the support jobs would almost certainly be local. That may strike AT&T as inefficient, but perfect efficiency by that definition leaves most of us unemployed.
The question for North Carolina is when it will recognize that its own best interests lie far from the best interests of Time Warner Cable, AT&T, and CenturyLink. If North Carolina wants to be a leader in the digital age, it has to let its communities decide for themselves if slow DSL and cable connections cut it or whether they would prefer to build their own blazing-fast, low cost networks like Wilson's Fiber Optic Greenlight.
Take a minute help us spread our graphic on Facebook today, about North Carolina's dumb decision. If you want to stay in the loop when these companies threaten states with restrictive laws, sign up on DecideLocally.com to get occasional alerts.