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.
“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.
Hoyle’s proposal would have banned any Tar Heel state city or county from contracting to “purchase, or finance or refinance” any kind of property to set up an “external communications system.” The law defined the latter as anything that “provides broadband service or other Internet access service, cable service, telecommunications service, video programming service, or a combination of these services.”
The bill would have effectively established a moratorium on this sort of activity. It also authorized the Senate’s Revenue Laws Study Committee to (ahem) “study” the concept through this year, then study it some more next year, and, we presume, gradually ratiocinate the complexities of the question into the sunset.