I wrote an op-ed for the Durham Herald Sun about the efforts in North Carolina to limit local authority to build community networks. We will continue heavy coverage on North Carolina and other states in danger of passing anti-competitive, pro-monopoly legislation proposed by powerful, massive carriers. Here is the op-ed:
After more than four years of lobbying, Time Warner Cable may finally succeed in restricting the authority of local communities to build their own broadband networks.
Its legislation, H 129/S 87, will enact a host of special requirements for publicly owned networks that do not apply to networks run by the cable and phone companies.
The "Level Playing Field / Local Gov't Competition" bill could more appropriately be called the "Monopoly Protection Act." Rather than actually leveling the playing field, this bill solely disadvantages publicly owned networks.
Time Warner Cable has convinced the House that a massive $18 billion-per-year company operating one of the largest telecommunications networks on the planet, is powerless to compete against a community-owned network like Greenlight in Wilson or Fibrant in Salisbury.
Bill sponsor Rep. Marilyn Avila has simply had enough of "predatory" (her word) local governments shaking down AT&T and TWC. The champion of a similar bill last year, Sen. David Hoyle, candidly admitted it was written by TWC. There is no reason to suspect anything changed this year.
But perhaps the more fantastical element of this story is that the Legislature's biggest broadband priority is to limit, not expand, broadband investments in the state ranked 41st in broadband. Just how bad is North Carolina's broadband? When Broadband.com launched its new map showing the prices paid by small businesses for broadband, seven of the 10 most expensive cities were located in North Carolina. Anchorage barely beat out Greensboro for the highest average price per Mbps. This is why major private sector companies like Google and Intel have gone on the record opposing TWC's bill.
Fast, reliable, and affordable access to the Internet is essential for communities to thrive in the modern age. This... Read more