Tag: "preemption"

Posted April 10, 2011 by christopher

Several days at the National Conference for Media Reform in Boston gave me time to reflect on the importance of protecting local authority to build, own, and operate their own networks connecting people and businesses to the Internet. Multiple presentations focused on the importance of and strategies for ensuring access to the Internet is not controlled by a few companies -- and most of these strategies are focused at federal government agencies and Congress.

While we support these efforts, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is not a DC-centric organization. We try to help folks in DC learn about what is happening outside the beltway, but our passion and work focuses directly on helping local communities invest in themselves and preserve their self-determination. 

Access to the Internet will likely be the key infrastructure investment that determines how well communities fare in the coming years. Unfortunately, they have very little control over how those investments are made when the networks are owned by private, absentee companies. Efforts like Universal Service Fund reform, fixing the FCC, re-writing the telecom act, and ensuring network neutrality depend on overcoming incredibly powerful (due to their scale and lobbying power) interests in Washington, DC. But local communities have very little power outside their borders... with some in state capitals and practically none in the nation's capital.

Attacks at the state level on the fundamental right of communities to build this essential infrastructure are intended to eliminate their one means of gaining some control over their digital future. Too many states already ban or limit local authority to build these networks -- and with the Time Warner Cable bill to crush community networks in North Carolina picking up steam and South Carolina's similar attack even on broadband stimulus projects, we will see hundreds more communities with no power to ensure their citizens and businesses have access to fast, reliable, and affordable access to the Internet.

This is deeply concerning.  Taking away the one tool...

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Posted April 6, 2011 by christopher

I'm on the road this week, leaving me little time to post in depth, but wanted to make sure readers are aware of an action alert posted by Stop the Cap!:

Stop the Cap! has learned lobbyists for North Carolina’s cable and phone companies are growing concerned over increasing opposition to their custom-written duopoly protection bill that will ruin community broadband developments across the state and threaten ones already up and running. Now they’re in a mad dash to push S.87 (the Senate version of H.129) through the Senate Tuesday before you have a chance to call and express outrage over this corporate protectionism. Our sources tell us the bill has been yanked from the Senate Commerce Committee and is moving faster than North Carolina’s cable and DSL broadband to the Finance Committee, where bill sponsors hope for a quick voice vote and no public comment allowed.

This is incredibly disappointing given a recent finding that North Carolina has the worst broadband in the nation [pdf]. No surprise to see Time Warner Cable acting hastily to get this bill through before the public learns more about it. The bill is terrible for the citizens and businesses of North Carolina, but great for wanna-be monopolists like Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink. By ensuring communities cannot build better networks, they will be free to continue letting North Carolina slide into digital oblivion as they concentrate their investments in communities with actual competition. Click on the link above to Stop the Cap! for information on who to contact to stop this attack from Time Warner Cable on the right of local communities to decide what is best for themselves.

Posted April 4, 2011 by christopher

FCC Commissioner Clyburn Mignon has released a statement opposing "Anti-Municipal Broadband Legislation" [pdf], especially singling out the Time Warner Cable bill to kill community broadband in North Carolina.

STATEMENT BY FCC COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN ON PROPOSED ANTI-MUNICIPAL BROADBAND LEGISLATION

I have serious concerns that as the Federal Communications Commission continues to address broadband deployment barriers outlined in the National Broadband Plan, new obstacles are being erected that are directly contrary to the Plan’s recommendations and goals.

I recently learned that several state legislatures are considering bills that are contrary to the deployment objectives of the Broadband Plan. For example, in North Carolina, the state legislature is currently evaluating legislation entitled ‘Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition.’ Last week the North Carolina House passed the bill, and it currently awaits consideration in the Senate. This piece of legislation certainly sounds goal-worthy, an innocuous proposition, but do not let the title fool you. This measure, if enacted, will not only fail to level the playing field; it will discourage municipal governments from addressing deployment in communities where the private sector has failed to meet broadband service needs. In other words, it will be a significant barrier to broadband deployment and may impede local efforts to promote economic development.

The National Broadband Plan recommended that Congress clarify that State, regional, and local governments should not be restricted from building their own broadband networks. When providers cannot meet the needs of local communities, the Plan provides that State, regional, and local entities should be able to respond accordingly, as they were able to do when municipal governments distributed electricity to thousands of rural communities during the 20th Century. Unfortunately, this National Broadband Plan recommendation continues to be ignored by some broadband industry members that are encouraging these misguided efforts.

Not long after the National Broadband Plan was issued, I had the privilege to visit North Carolina and speak about the goals in the Plan, and the importance of our...

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Posted April 1, 2011 by christopher

In all of the hubbub around Google's Gigabit project announcement of Kansas City, Kansas, Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm put up a fascinating post:

Chip Rosenthal headed the grass roots effort to bring Google’s gigabit fiber network to Austin, and he says the Texas capital was on the short list of cities that received a site visit and were in the final rounds. Unfortunately for Austin (and me since I’d be happy to plug into a fiber-to-the-home network) Google passed over the city and chose Kansas City, Kan. instead. Rosenthal, who is one of seven commissioners on the City of Austin’s Technology and Telecommunications Commission (a strictly advisory body), thinks it’s because Texas is one of four states that forbids municipalities from getting involved in building networks.

I frequently said that if I were at Google, I would not partner with a community in a state that has decided to limit local authority to make broadband investments. We do not know for sure what role these laws played, but it is interesting that Kansas City, Missouri, has much less freedom to build telecommunications networks than does Kansas City, Kansas.

From everything we know, this network will owned and operated by Google - which means we do not consider community broadband. Though we salute Google's approach of open access (allowing independent ISPs to use the network), the future of the network is tied to Google, not the community in which it operates. Our hope is that this network helps to prove the model of open access networks, making it more feasible for communities around the country to build their own such networks much as they build the roads on which modern communities depend.

And in the meantime, it is really, really dumb policy to take the choice of whether to build a community network out of the hands of the community.

Posted March 31, 2011 by christopher

Greensboro is the latest to officially call on the North Carolina Legislature to not pass H 129, a bill pushed by Time Warner Cable to limit the right of communities to choose to build their own broadband networks.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL URGING MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND GOVERNOR PERDUE TO OPPOSE H129 AND S87 (LEVEL PLAYING FIELD/LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMPETITION ACT) AND ANY LEGISLATION WHICH WOULD PROHIBIT OR LIMIT THE ABILITY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO PROVIDE BROADBAND OR ANY OTHER COMMUNICATION SERVICES OR SYSTEMS

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 87 and House Bill 129 have been introduced in the 2011-2012 Session of the General Assembly of North Carolina; and

WHEREAS, these bills do not provide a level playing field to cities, to cities, towns and counties, but greatly hinder local governments from providing needed communications services, including public safety networks, and especially advanced high-speed broadband services, in unserved and underserved areas; and

WHEREAS, these bills impose numerous obligations on cities and towns that private broadband companies do not have to meet; and

WHEREAS, while private companies declare top-quality broadband service is cost prohibitive, the United States continues to lose ground to other nations in broadband access, user cost and growth in number of users, falling behind the United Kingdom, Korea, France, Japan, Canada, Estonia, and now China, each of which provides Internet access at speeds that are some 500 times faster than what the private providers in the United States and at less cost; and

WHEREAS, the bills would prohibit North Carolina cities and towns from using federal grant funds to deploy or operate locally-owned or operated broadband systems, thereby denying N.C. residents access to federal assistance available to the rest of the country and hindering employment opportunities; and

WHEREAS, deployment of high-speed Internet is a new public utility vital to the future economic development, educational outreach and community growth in North Carolina necessary to replace lost textile, tobacco, furniture and manufacturing jobs; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly has...

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Posted March 31, 2011 by christopher

Yesterday, the Tech News Today netcast on the TWiT network invited me on to discuss the North Carolina legislation to kill community networks and the Google Gigabit network decision to build in Kansas City, Kansas.  I am on the first 12 minutes or so of the show, embedded below.  

Posted March 28, 2011 by christopher

Momeyer also adds its name to the list of towns and cities opposing a bill in the State Legislature pushed by Time Warner Cable to deny the communities the right to build broadband networks.

A RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN COUNCIL OF MOMEYER URGING MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND GOVERNOR PERDUE TO OPPOSE H129 AND 587 (LEVEL PLAYING FIELD/LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMPETITION ACT) AND ANY LEGISLATION WHICH WOULD PROHIBIT OR LIMIT THE ABILITY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO PROVIDE BROADBAND OR ANY OTHER COMMUNICATION SERVICES OR SYSTEMS

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 87 and House Bill 129 have been introduced in the 2011-2012 Session of the General Assembly of North Carolina; and

WHEREAS, these bills do not provide a level playing field to cities, towns and counties, but greatly hinder local governments from providing needed communications services, including Public safety networks, and especially advanced high-speed broadband services, in unserved and underserved areas; and

WHEREAS, these bills impose numerous obligations on cities and towns that private broadband companies do not have to meet; and

WHEREAS, while private companies declare top-quality broadband service is cost prohibitive, the United States continues to lose ground to other nations in broadband access, user cost and growth in number of users, falling behind the United Kingdom, Korea, France, Japan, Canada, Estonia, and now China, each of which provides Internet access at speeds that are some 500 times faster than what the private providers in the United States and at less cost; and

WHEREAS, the bills would prohibit North Carolina cities and towns from using federal grant funds to deploy or operate locally-owned or operated broadband systems, thereby denying N.C. residents access to federal assistance available to the rest of the country and hindering employment opportunities; and

WHEREAS, deployment of high-speed Internet is a new public utility vital to the future economic development, educational outreach and community growth in North Carolina necessary to replace lost textile, tobacco, furniture and manufacturing jobs; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly has already established: (1) rules governing Public...

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Posted March 25, 2011 by christopher

Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm has explained the entire reason Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink are trying to prohibit communities from building their own networks: North Carolina has some of the worst broadband in America! TWC and CenturyLink know how uncompetitive their services are! The story covers a new broadband map launched by bandwidth.com.

nc-bbchart.png

Look at these numbers!!

North Carolina has SEVEN of the worst 10 places to get broadband in the US. And these are the places in North Carolina that actually have broadband! Imagine how bad it is in the rural areas. Stunning to see the North Carolina Legislators conspiring to limit the ability of communities to invest in themselves when the private sector has no interest in next-generation networks, choosing instead to reap profits off of systems that barely meet the FCC's definition of broadband.

With such terribly uncompetitive services, of course Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink have run to the Legislature to ban the community networks that have stepped in to prevent lazy incumbents from killing the future of entire communities in the digital age. As we have been detailing (most recently here), the public is overwhelmingly opposed to Raleigh telling communities they cannot build the networks TWC and CenturyLink will not.

What more proof is necessary that the Legislators pushing H129 in North Carolina have sold out the citizens for a few massive companies that just happen to make large donations to their campaigns.

We previously charted the superiority of the community fiber networks in North Carolina, but this chart shows just how much the existing cable and DSL companies have left North Carolina communities behind.

Posted March 24, 2011 by christopher

After a few days of false hope, the Time Warner Cable Monopoly Protection Act, H129, passed the House Finance Committee after being stripped of the amendments that would have allowed communities without access to real broadband to build their own networks.

As usual, Stop the Cap! offered the first recap of yesterday's fiasco.

Faison’s amendment was designed to open the door to someone — anyone – to bring broadband into rural areas of the state.  While Time Warner Cable, AT&T, and CenturyLink dawdle, large numbers of rural residents simply go without any broadband service.  Faison’s amendment was simple and reasonable — if at least half of an area is not served with 4/1Mbps service, provisions should be made to allow local communities, if they wish, to establish service themselves to get the job done.

Last week, when Faison’s amendment appeared to be headed for incorporation into the bill, industry lobbyists blanched and fled the room, raising vocal objections and demanding a week timeout before a vote was taken.  After winning their reprieve, they managed to get the Republican majority in line to throw rural North Carolina under the bus, uniformly opposing Faison’s amendment.  Two Democrats, one representing the city where Time Warner Cable’s regional division is headquartered, joined them.

In its place, they substituted a new amendment which defined broadband in the state of North Carolina as any service occasionally capable of achieving 768kbps downstream and 200kbps upstream.  That represents “well-served” among these industry-friendly legislators.

This came after an excellent exposé showing Representatives annoyed to be asked why they are pushing Time Warner Cable's bill (to the detriment of every other business and citizen of North Carolina) after taking large contributions from telecommunications companies.

This video is no longer available.

Others have taken notice as well - see this political cartoon...

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Posted March 24, 2011 by christopher

A resolution opposing H129/S87 from the city of Raleigh:

RESOLUTION NO. 2011 – 322

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF RALEIGH URGING THE STATE TO RECOGNIZE THE ROLE OF MUNICIPALITIES IN THE DEPLOYMENT OF TECHNOLOGY SERVICES FOR THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA AND TO EXPRESS CONCERN ABOUT POTENTIAL LEGISLATION TO LIMIT LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROVISION OF BROADBAND SERVICE

Whereas, access to high capacity, high-speed, state-of-the-art broadband networks is essential for our state to compete in the global economy and to provide citizens access to advanced applications in medicine, public safety, energy management and education;

Whereas, the United States is rapidly losing ground to other countries in broadband subscriptions per capita and North Carolina is similarly losing ground to other states;

Whereas, contrary to that trend, the City of Raleigh has made significant strides in ensuring that businesses, citizens, and visitors have access to technology services, providing free WiFi service in the center city area;

Whereas, in March of 2010 the City of Raleigh was named America's Most Wired City by Forbes, ranking higher overall than any other U.S. city in three measures—broadband penetration, broadband access, and plentiful WiFi hot spots;

Whereas, the City of Raleigh's experience demonstrates the economic development benefits of investment in the deployment of advanced networks by public and private providers;

Whereas, Senate Bill 87 and House Bill 129, companion bills entitled Level Playing Field/Local Gov't Competition, were introduced in the 2011 Regular Session of the North Carolina General Assembly; and

Whereas, if enacted the proposed legislation would not have leveled the playing field but instead would have hindered local governments from providing needed communications services, especially advanced high-speed broadband, in underserved areas and imposed burdensome obligations on local governments that private broadband providers would not have to meet;

Whereas, if enacted the proposed legislation would have denied local governments the availability of federal grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to assist in providing affordable access to high capacity broadband service in unserved and underserved areas; and

Whereas, private providers have not been willing or able to provide high-speed broadband services to...

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