RALEIGH, NC – Despite the fact that seven of the ten cities with the worst broadband deals from commercial providers are in North Carolina, the NC General Assembly has accepted Senate changes to its bill restricting municipal efforts to build their own broadband networks. The bill now goes to NC Gov. Bev Perdue for signing, although she has not commented on her position.
Five NC cities that have already created municipal broadband networks, Wilson, Salisbury, Morganton, Davidson and Mooresville, are exempt from most of the bill’s restrictions, although their coverage areas would be limited.
Telecom firms such as Time Warner Cable have argued that the municipal broadband networks have an unfair advantage, while the municipalities complain that the commercial providers do not offer high speed service in their areas and the lack hurts business.
Cable and phone companies have launched strong lobbying efforts to restrict municipal broadband efforts in other states. Frequently significant contributors to political candidates and able to mount well-funded lobbying, they have frequently been successful.
The NC bill requires municipalities to hold public hearings on plans to build broadband networks, separate the business from other municipal government services financially, and prohibits offering services below cost. It also requires voter approval in a referendum to borrow money to build the networks. It does exempt cities that can show that more than 50 percent of their households have no access to high-speed Internet access or only have satellite provider access.
Seven of the ten worst cities in NC
Bandwidth.com, which does broadband mapping, shows that seven of the ten U.S. cities with the worst broadband connections at price per Mbps are in North Carolina. They include Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Wilmington, and Charlotte. Columbia, SC, is also on the list. South Carolina is also considering a bill to restrict municipal broadband.
Nationally, 130 communities own wireless broadband networks.
We have reported previously that the fastest and cheapest broadband networks are city run in the south.
A group called the Institute for Local Self-Reliance says that restricting municipal broadband would hurt job creation in NC.
Here’s an excellent resource with extensive links on municipal broadband efforts:
Baller Herbst Law Group: Herbst Law
For more on the commercial providers positions:
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