Municipal Broadband

FCC may intervene in muni broadband battle

Putting the big-government bullies in Raleigh on notice:

Four other communities in the state also launched municipal broadband. Such enterprises irked big-time providers enough that, after years of lobbying and a million dollars in campaign cash, North Carolina in 2011 passed a cable industry-backed law that makes it nearly impossible for any other municipality to do the same. (Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink did not return requests for comment.)

Two weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it intends to take a close look at overruling such state laws, which restrict the ability of cities and towns to build their own broadband networks in 20 states across the country. The legal restrictions on municipal broadband are an “obvious candidate” for the agency’s scrutiny as it seeks to enhance competition, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

It's about time somebody stepped in to defend the rights of cities and towns in this state. Republicans in the NCGA have shown nothing but contempt for these smaller governments, and have allowed private companies to dictate what should be decided by local voters. Bring it on.

Municipal broadband foes take advantage of open government

And the playing field tilts again:

The trade group, whose largest member is Time Warner, is one of a growing number of private enterprises turning to the public records law in recent years to settle beefs with government or to collect information they can use to make money.

For those who need to play catch-up on this issue, here's a glance at some recent developments:

Rep. Howard and Sen. Apodaca squirm on TV

NBC 17's Justin Moss took a look at the money flowing from Time Warner Cable to the primary sponsors of H.129, the so-called "Level Playing Field" bill that would bury municipal broadband systems.

If you've been waiting to see the "deer-in-the-headlights" look of a politician caught with her hand in the cookie jar, watch Rep. Howard's reaction at the end of this video. It is PRICELESS!

"Don't Block Broadband" op-ed in N&O

Mark Turner states the case eloquently:

The Internet is no less transformational than electricity. Through this world-changing technology, lives are being shared, distance learning taking place and innovative new businesses springing up. Sadly just as in the days before electrification, many North Carolina communities (particularly rural ones) are being left behind, stuck in the Internet slow lane.

The incredible irony of this issue is the telecom-financed opposition's use of the phrase "level the playing field". North Carolina, where up is down and wrong is right.

Misguided resistance to municipal broadband

Here's the bill currently being considered:

Level Playing Field/Local Gov't Competition. AN ACT to protect jobs and investment by regulating local government competition with private business.

This bill is flawed in several ways, but first let's look at that "regulating local government" thing. For a GOP-led Legislature that rarely misses an opportunity to bash the Federal government for pushing states around, they are flexing their muscles over municipalities like there's no tomorrow. But like several other issues being debated, that irony is lost on them.

Municipal broadband in the hands of Legislature

And it looks like they're trying to help Big Telecom:

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up legislation Wednesday that would force municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money to build a broadband network. Opponents say that would give corporations a spending advantage ahead of local referendums.

Mystery question #47: When is a compromise not a compromise? When it gives one side a huge advantage over the other.

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