Gathering to explore ‘digital divide’

Charlotte summit today will discuss how N.C. have-nots lack needed broadband.

By Eric Frazier
efrazier@charlotteobserver.com

When Pete Pruitt asked Comcast Cable how much it would cost to get high-speed internet service at his Caswell County home, officials told him they’d need to run fiber lines to his street, a mile-long artery that 12 families call home.

Cost: a one-time fee of $48,000.

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How To Finance a Community Broadband Network When Incumbents Fight Back

By Craig Settles

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Municipal broadband networks may the fastest way for smaller communities — and those in areas without much competition — to bring better broadband to their businesses and residents. These networks aren’t generally popular with incumbent communications providers, which have a history of suing to stop them. However, their tactics have changed.

In 2005, the main goal of large incumbent telcos and cable companies was to try for an outright ban on municipal networks. As the public vigorously fought back, incumbents switched to creative assaults on communities’ ability to find or use money to pay for networks. Eighteen states have restrictive muni network legislation (see map) that makes building a community-owned network impossible or difficult, especially when it comes to funding them.

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Six months to act before NC looks at municipal broadband again

By Allan Maurer

Communities United for BroadbandRALEIGH, NC – North Carolina legislators recently killed a proposed bill by state Senator David Hoyle (D-Gaston) that would have put a moratorium on municipal broadband efforts, but the issue is likely to arise again in January, say community activists in favor of continuing to allow cities to build their own broadband networks.

Hoyle’s bill, S1209 was just the most recent of four attempts backed by incumbent providers (AT&T, Time Warner Cable & others) to stop cities from creating their own broadband networks.

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Municipal broadband haters in NC dealt a blow

One state down and 18 to go to allow municipalities to decide their own fate on the best broadband network option for them.  Elimination of these laws is no guarantee that every municipality is going to enter the telecommunications business.  Most of them do not have the expertise for such an endeavor which is why they will turn to private companies to assume that responsibility.  If the incumbents could afford to upgrade the last mile networks in rural communities then there would be no need to consider leveraging the long-term financing of municipalities.  The problem is that investing in rural broadband networks is not something that most public companies can do.  As more and more communities build that last-mile infrastructure, I predict that the incumbents will start purchasing capacity or fibers from them.

By Matthew Lasar

“O joyous day! O rapture!” blogged a community broadband advocate on Monday. “That insidious bill [that] incumbents’ pocket legislator, NC state Senator Hoyle, tried to pass to kill muni broadband networks met its final demise over the weekend.”

Indeed it has. North Carolina Senator David Hoyle’s (D-GA) now-defeated amendment (S-1209) was cosmetically titled “An Act to Ensure That A Local Government That Competes with Private Companies in Providing Communication Services Has The Support Of Its Citizens.” But advocates of city/county backed high speed Internet projects just knew it as the Municipal-Broadband Must Die Die Die bill.

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Hoyle to municipal broadband: Drop dead

Last Wednesday, state Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, unveiled a bill that if passed, would severely restrict North Carolina municipalities attempting to build their own broadband network. Supported by the powerful telecommunications companies, the bill would interminably delay or even halt public broadband projects.

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