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Assorted Speeches in North Carolina House of Representatives on Anti-Community Broadband Legislation
We have isolated some of the more stirring comments from legislators opposing the Time Warner Cable bill to limit local authority to build, own, or operate their own broadband networks. These come from the floor of the House of Representatives when the House voted to approve the bill and send it to the Senate.
It is worth noting that a variety of Republicans, particuarly from rural areas, had supported community rights over Time Warner Cable in some of the committee discussions around this bill. But in the end, not a single Republican stood with local authority in this matter -- they all chose to overrule local decision-making with a one-size-fits-all approach from Raleigh that greatly favors massive companies like Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink.
Below, we have created bite-size chunks of speeches that capture some of the key arguments presented by those seeking to defend local authority.
Chapel Hill has joined many other communities in North Carolina officially opposing the Time Warner Cable bill to strip communities of the right to build their own broadband networks. The bottom of this post has links to similar resolutions we have tracked down.
Mahoney said his church, Faith Baptist, would like faster Internet speeds but can’t afford the $20,000 Time Warner Cable would charge to build a business-class circuit for the church. Church members are not satisfied with DSL service from Windstream, Mahoney said.
Several days at the National Conference for Media Reform in Boston gave me time to reflect on the importance of protecting local authority to build, own, and operate their own networks connecting people and businesses to the Internet. Multiple presentations focused on the importance of and strategies for ensuring access to the Internet is not controlled by a few companies -- and most of these strategies are focused at federal government agencies and Congress.
While we support these efforts, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance is not a DC-centric organization. We try to help folks in DC learn about what is happening outside the beltway, but our passion and work focuses directly on helping local communities invest in themselves and preserve their self-determination.
Access to the Internet will likely be the key infrastructure investment that determines how well communities fare in the coming years. Unfortunately, they have very little control over how those investments are made when the networks are owned by private, absentee companies. Efforts like Universal Service Fund reform, fixing the FCC, re-writing the telecom act, and ensuring network neutrality depend on overcoming incredibly powerful (due to their scale and lobbying power) interests in Washington, DC. But local communities have very little power outside their borders... with some in state capitals and practically none in the nation's capital.
I'm on the road this week, leaving me little time to post in depth, but wanted to make sure readers are aware of an action alert posted by Stop the Cap!:
Stop the Cap! has learned lobbyists for North Carolina’s cable and phone companies are growing concerned over increasing opposition to their custom-written duopoly protection bill that will ruin community broadband developments across the state and threaten ones already up and running. Now they’re in a mad dash to push S.87 (the Senate version of H.129) through the Senate Tuesday before you have a chance to call and express outrage over this corporate protectionism. Our sources tell us the bill has been yanked from the Senate Commerce Committee and is moving faster than North Carolina’s cable and DSL broadband to the Finance Committee, where bill sponsors hope for a quick voice vote and no public comment allowed.
This is incredibly disappointing given a recent finding that North Carolina has the worst broadband in the nation [pdf]. No surprise to see Time Warner Cable acting hastily to get this bill through before the public learns more about it. The bill is terrible for the citizens and businesses of North Carolina, but great for wanna-be monopolists like Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink. By ensuring communities cannot build better networks, they will be free to continue letting North Carolina slide into digital oblivion as they concentrate their investments in communities with actual competition. Click on the link above to Stop the Cap! for information on who to contact to stop this attack from Time Warner Cable on the right of local communities to decide what is best for themselves.
STATEMENT BY FCC COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN ON PROPOSED ANTI-MUNICIPAL BROADBAND LEGISLATION I have serious concerns that as the Federal Communications Commission continues to address broadband deployment barriers outlined in the National Broadband Plan, new obstacles are being erected that are directly contrary to the Plan’s recommendations and goals. I recently learned that several state legislatures are considering bills that are contrary to the deployment objectives of the Broadband Plan. For example, in North Carolina, the state legislature is currently evaluating legislation entitled ‘Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition.’ Last week the North Carolina House passed the bill, and it currently awaits consideration in the Senate. This piece of legislation certainly sounds goal-worthy, an innocuous proposition, but do not let the title fool you. This measure, if enacted, will not only fail to level the playing field; it will discourage municipal governments from addressing deployment in communities where the private sector has failed to meet broadband service needs. In other words, it will be a significant barrier to broadband deployment and may impede local efforts to promote economic development. The National Broadband Plan recommended that Congress clarify that State, regional, and local governments should not be restricted from building their own broadband networks. When providers cannot meet the needs of local communities, the Plan provides that State, regional, and local entities should be able to respond accordingly, as they were able to do when municipal governments distributed electricity to thousands of rural communities during the 20th Century.