Controversial Broadband Bill Moving Forward in North Carolina

April 1, 2011 By Brian Heaton

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina as seen from ...

Image via Wikipedia

A bill that would place restrictions on the establishment of municipal broadband networks is gaining traction in North Carolina. The proposed legislation, House Bill 129, was passed by the state’s House of Representatives in an 81 to 37 vote on Monday, March 28, and is making its way through the state Senate.

The bill, which has sparked controversy across the state, is called the “Level Playing Field/Local Gov’t Competition” act. The legislation would require communities to alter the way networks are financed and deployed. One section of the bill mandates that a municipal network not price services below their actual costs. The intent of the language appears to be an attempt to protect companies from unfair competition, even though private companies regularly offer incentive deals to attract customers.

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New N.C. Bill Would Restrict Muni Broadband

pic for NC population

Image via Wikipedia

by Wendy Davis

A lawmaker in North Carolina proposed a bill that would curtail communities from building their own broadband networks. The move marks the fourth time since 2007 that a state legislator has attempted to limit cities’ ability to create municipal broadband networks.

The most recent proposed measure — “An act to protect jobs and investment by regulating local government competition with private business,” would impose a host of restrictions on cities that want to create their own networks. Among others, the law would curb cities’ ability to fund broadband networks, advertise them, or price the service below-cost.

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A Blazing Fast Muni Fiber Network…Coming at City Council Speed

The top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

Reprinted with permission from Community Broadband Networks.

If Seattle moves forward on the Community Fiber Network it has been considering, it will be the largest such network in the nation. However, as we recently noted, progress has been slow. Reclaim the Media recently noted progress toward publicly owned fiber in Edmonds and asked why Seattle is stuck in the mud on the issue.

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