The future of high-quality Internet access in Pinetops, North Carolina, is precarious. Nearby Wilson’s municipal fiber network, Greenlight, provides gigabit connectivity for now, but a series of federal level decisions could change the situation at any moment. Now the story of these two communities and their fight for local telecommunications authority has come to life in the film Do Not Pass Go. Local communities can schedule a screening of the documentary. Watch the trailer below.
A Story Worth Telling
Cullen Hoback’s film tells the story that made national news and that we’ve shared as events unfolded.
Wilson, North Carolina’s municipal Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network has benefitted residents, businesses, and institutions in Wilson since 2008. Neighboring rural towns, including Pinetops, had asked Wilson to expand in order to obtain better Internet access but state law precluded Wilson from serving beyond county borders.
When Chattanooga decided to challenge Tennessee’s law that had a similar effect, Wilson joined the motion to the FCC in 2015. The Commission struck down both laws and Wilson took the opportunity to expand service to Pinetops, the small mountain town of about 1,400 people. Pinetops businesses and residents immediately felt the improvement with FTTH. They experienced economic development opportunities and municipal facilities functioned more efficiently.
In the summer of 2016, however, an appellate court reversed the FCC decision and Pinetops was scheduled to be cut off from the FTTH service it had come to depend on. Wilson provided free connectivity for a time to avoid breaking the law, but eventually, the state legislature passed a bill that will allow Greenlight to serve the tiny town—for now. If any private provider decides to enter the market in the community, Greenlight must leave. In other words, state lawmakers in North Carolina are legislating away competition in Pinetops.
Schedule A Screening In Your Community
Hoback’s documentary talks to the people who wonder each day what their Internet access future looks like. The story dives into the issue of local control, publicly owned networks, and community. You can schedule a screening by contacting Deb Socia from Next Century Cities.
Check out the trailer here: