I think the rural electric associations, the municipalities, and the investor-owned utilities, are all positioned to make a real contribution in this telecommunications area, and I do think it is important that we make sure we have got the right language to accomplish what we wish to accomplish here.
Community Broadband Quotes
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
The vote was a major victory for municipal broadband, even if it sounds like a slightly ridiculous one. Longmont didn’t vote to build a broadband network, or to raise taxes to one day build a broadband network, or even to undertake a study group to start thinking about building a broadband network. It simply voted that the city should have the right to decide what to do with largely unused infrastructure it built 15 years ago.
Is subscription sales the only way our municipality is going to see a return on our $500,000 [city-owned wireless network]? Not really. We see other benefits. Police on the street longer because they can do their reports from the cars rather than the squad room. More information to our firefighters before they make scene on a possible structure fire. AMR project. Tourist access to city wide internet. These are all hard dollar and soft dollar returns that are real.
Of course there is the argument that government should stay out of the way when it comes to broadband. Sometimes it is easy to forget how much the private industry benefits when government steps in to provide or facilitate basic infrastructure. Private industry benefits tremendously from our road systems, reliable power infrastructure, clean water, sewer systems and public safety.
Government’s role is to take into account the public good. Just as government decides where highways, roads and streets go to serve the public good through careful planning, design, implementation and maintenance, the same approach should apply to broadband. To elaborate, government plans and designs the nation’s road infrastructure, frequently overseeing the construction of it by private companies and then manages the finished product.
So if we determine that broadband is one of the “basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society” then I would say yes, government has a role in broadband policy. I am clear that the Saint Paul Broadband Advisory Committee did indeed feel that broadband has become a basic infrastructure.
At least once a week in my 48 months of public service, I was told by someone that the purpose of the Commission was to create a "level playing field." No one meant it. The proponents of this view wanted someone else to be burred under their "level" field. And I never believed our job was "leveling." Should a jury declare a defendant neither guilty nor innocent, but only express a neutral view?
No one disputes the importance of broadband access for economic growth and job creation. That's why five cities - Wilson, Salisbury, Morganton, Davidson and Mooresville - invoked their self-help traditions to build and operate broadband systems after years of neglect from for-profit providers, which focus their investments in more affluent and densely populated areas. Not coincidentally, all five cities own and operate their own power systems or have ties to nonprofit electric cooperatives.
How does a state that values independence, self-reliance and economic prosperity allow absentee-owned corporations to pass a law essentially granting two industries - cable and telephone - the power to dictate North Carolina's broadband future?