The Roanoke Daily Herald published this op-ed about local government action for broadband networks on September 25, 2015. We were responding to an earlier Op-Ed, available here. Christopher Mitchell wrote the following op-ed.
Community broadband must be a local choice, a guest columnist writes.
It is stunning any legislator can look at the constituents they serve in rural North Carolina and think, “‘These people don’t need the same high quality Internet access now being delivered in Charlotte and the Triangle. They should be happy with whatever cable and telephone companies offer.”
But that’s just what I think Representatives Jason Saine and Michael Wray are implying in their recent opinion piece on community broadband networks.
By supporting U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis’ legislation to remove local authority for building broadband networks, the two lawmakers are siding with big cable and telephone firms over their own communities.
It is hardly a secret that Time Warner Cable, AT&T, CenturyLink and others are investing too little in rural communities. The majority of residents and local businesses in North Carolina have no real choice today and can expect their bills to go up tomorrow.
Areas served by coops or locally-rooted companies are more likely to see upgrades because they are accountable to the community in ways that national firms are not. Local firms are more willing to invest in better networks and keep prices low because they live in the community.
North Carolina communities stuck with no broadband or slow DSL and cable at best are disadvantaged in economic development and property values. This is why hundreds of local governments have already invested in fiber optic networks — with remarkable success.
Wilson is one example, where the city built the first gigabit fiber optic network in the state. The network has paid all its bills on time and the largest employers in the area all subscribe to it. One local business, which was a vocal opponent of the idea at first, now...Read more