Muni ISP forced to shut off fiber-to-the-home Internet after court ruling

The city council in Wilson, North Carolina, has reluctantly voted to turn off the fiber Internet service it provides to a nearby town because of a court ruling that prevents expansion of municipal broadband services.

The Federal Communications Commission in February 2015 voted to block laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. After that vote, Wilson’s Greenlight fiber Internet service expanded to the nearby town of Pinetops.

But the states of North Carolina and Tennessee sued the FCC to keep their anti-municipal broadband laws in place, and last month they won a federal appeals court ruling that reinstated the law that prevents Wilson from offering Internet service to nearby municipalities. At last night’s city council meeting, Wilson decided not to appeal the court decision and voted to terminate the service agreement with the town of Pinetops, Wilson’s city spokesperson, Rebecca Agner, told Ars today.

About 200 home Internet customers in Pinetops will thus lose their Internet service on October 28, Agner said. The nearby Vick Family Farms that employs about 250 people will also lose its service, she said.

“We must comply with our state law,” Agner said. But city council members were very vocal in their opposition to the law and regret having to disconnect the service, she said.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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