How Telecoms Are Killing Off Community Broadband Efforts in the U.S.

If you are a municipality and you want to offer your citizens broadband, you'll have to fight against the lobbyist representing the major service providers in your state. That's the reality laid out in this article detailing what happened in North Carolina recently.

They contend that, by not being for or against legislation, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue gave away the right of North Carolinian communities to create their own broadband networks. It happened in North Carolina without much effort, and it can happen across the country if people don't pay attention to what's going on with their duly elected state representatives.

In 2011 the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill, written by big telecom companies, that took away North Carolina communities’ right to create their own broadband networks. The Governor could have stopped the bill with a veto, but instead refused to sign it or veto the bill. It became the law of the land without her signature.

The bill, "Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition Bill (H129)" creates what SavetheInternet calls an unequal playing field by eliminating competition and restricting the cable market to existing private companies. In other words, even if people in a town or a city want to let their local government create a broadband network, they are not allowed to under this law.

The bill is part of a larger trend to keep broadband providers in power. Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and other states are considering similar bills. These bills are based on legislation drafted by a corporate-funded front group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). SavetheInternet claims that this group is behind hundreds of state-level bills covering a variety of topics related to big business.

Georgia is considering its own version of this bill.

For those that are interested in fighting these kinds of laws, be sure to check out and see what grass roots efforts you can get involved in. As they point out, the North Carolina bill should serve as a wake-up call to the rest of the country.

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