A short update on yesterday's hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on Time Warner Cable's bill (HB 129) to level community broadband in North Carolina: the bill was passed and will head to the Senate Floor (
but not this week) TODAY. It has been modified to expand the anti-compettion fence being built around Wilson and Salisbury, both of whom operate muni fiber networks, offering the best connections in the state. Both will now be able to expand slighty more (as opposed to private companies, who are free to offer service anywhere in the state), which is great for those nearby communities that now have some hope for competition in the future but remains disappointing for the vast majority of the state's residents and businesses, who will shortly have no hope of any real improvement in their access to the Internet.
Senators need to continue hearing from constituents on this bill - they will all be on the spot on the Senate Floor when it comes up for passage. This will happen TODAY at noon (EDT), listen here for the railroading.
The result of this bill will be to lessen any incentive for private companies like Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink to increase investment in the communities they serve because they know the local government now has no power to build a better network that would threaten their monopoly profits. And in areas without any access to broadband, the present Legislature seems to have no interest in solving that problem until those rural folks can pony up campaign contributions on the level of Time Warner Cable.
We will plan to get some of the interesting audio clips online when they are avaialble.