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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  1. 0
    Sgt_V3n0m says:

    As a North Carolinian, I opposed this bill, and even called Bev Perdue (who is NOT going to get reelected, with some of the crap she’s pulled) to ask her to oppose it. And IIRC Game Politics covered it when it was going through the States’ House. It makes me sad that they passed this, and I was the only person in my family and group of friends that knew of it, and when I told them, they just sat back saying how they didn’t like it, yet did nothing to help stop it.

  2. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Private companies only complain about having to compete with the government when those private companies monopolies or duopolies are threatened by government intrusion.

    The reason private schools and the Fedex don't complain is because the government has an effective monopoly in those fields that they are trying to break into. 

    E. Zachary Knight
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  3. 0
    DanHoyt says:

    Public schools compete with private schools.

    FedEx competes with the United Postal Service.

    I'm tired of hearing about how government does such a terrible job running things and then hearing that private companies can't compete with the government.

  4. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    Maybe they need to see how choice was actually removed i nthe trailer park I lived in.

    Comcast cut a deal with the park to be the only cable provider there. It was them or satellite/dial-up


  5. 0
    BlindMaphisto says:

    Communities use tax dollars to create these things and then drive the price so low that others can't compete. It is a bit of an unfair business practice but since it's a business practice and helps regular people over corporations then I say fudge it.

  6. 0
    Hevach says:

    I don't even remember if they actually managed to stop community broadband here in Michigan, or just called it good after they forced the places planning it to quit, but the magic bullets were "big government" and "communism."

    When talking to people with two brain cells to rub together (and this is Michigan we're talking about) the literal claim was that by providing a cheaper service, they were removing choice. When one option is cheaper, everyone will choose the cheaper option, and that isn't choice, it's force. I.e. the government forcing you to use their socialized internet. Forcing your children to use their internet, the internet the government controls, taking your parental authority away from you… and so on from there, hitting a few more key points.

    Sadly, it's a pretty proven line of argument, politically speaking.

  7. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "The bill, "Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition Bill (H129)" creates what the author calls and unequal playing field by eliminating competition and restricting the cable market to existing private companies."

    So, what exactly are the purported positives of such legislation?  How on Earth are they selling this?


    Andrew Eisen

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