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NC Governor Bev Purdue

A comparison of broadband download speeds
Governor Bev Purdue says that she will neither sign nor veto H.129

It looks as though the big telecoms that provide internet service in North Carolina -- Time Warner Cable, AT&T, etc. -- will score a major victory in their assault on municipal internet. This victory has been made possible thanks to Governor Beverly Perdue's indecisiveness on the matter.

I. Governor Beverly Purdue Chooses Inaction over Ruffling Feathers

Purdue issued the following statement on Friday in regards to House Bill 129 (H.129):

I believe that every school, household and business in North Carolina – no matter where they are – should have access to efficient and affordable broadband services.

There is a need to establish rules to prevent cities and towns from having an unfair advantage over providers in the private sector.  My concern with House Bill 129 is that the restrictions the General Assembly has imposed on cities and towns who want to offer broadband services may have the effect of decreasing the number of choices available to their citizens.

For these reasons, I will neither sign nor veto this bill.  Instead, I call on the General Assembly to revisit this issue and adopt rules that not only promote fairness but also allow for the greatest number of high quality and affordable broadband options for consumers. 

Since Governor Purdue has chosen not to sign the bill, it will automatically become law in North Carolina. 

II. H.129: “No Soup for You!”

H.129 would put restrictions on cities that currently provide internet service to its citizens (Wilson, Salisbury, Morganton, Davidson, and Mooresville), and would significantly hinder any efforts by other cities to pursue their own municipal internet services.

H.129 ensures that companies like Time Warner Cable and AT&T will continue to be the dominant players in most N.C. markets, even with higher pricing and speeds that often lag far behind what cities themselves can provide for its residents.

Some of the provisions in H.129 state that cities: 

  • Shall provide nondiscriminatory access to private communications service providers on a first-come, first-served basis to rights-of-way, poles, or conduits owned, leased, or operated by the city unless the facilities have insufficient capacity for the access and additional capacity cannot reasonably be added to the facilities.

  • Shall not use city resources that are not allocated for cost accounting purposes to the city-owned communications service  to promote city-owned communications service in comparison to private services or, directly or indirectly, require city employees, officers, or contractors to purchase city services

  • Shall not subsidize the provision of communications service with funds from any other noncommunications service, operation, or other revenue source, including any funds or revenue generated from electric, gas, water, sewer, or garbage services.

  • Shall not price any communications service below the cost of providing the service, including any direct or indirect subsidies received by the city-owned communications service provider and allocation of costs associated with any shared use of buildings, equipment, vehicles, and personnel with other city departments.

Companies like Time Warner Cable say that they simply can't compete with the lower-priced offerings from municipal-based services. For example, 10Mbps Road Runner service will cost you $57 per month. A competing plan from Greenlight (run by the town of Wilson) only costs $35 per month.

III. Citizens Suffer, Lawmakers and Telecoms Reap the Benefits

This “non-action” by Governor Purdue represents a significant blow to N.C. residents who live in underserved communities when it comes to broadband access, or are simply looking for cheaper alternatives. The rise of municipal internet in N.C. was a direct result of the major telecoms dragging their feet when it came to providing services or boosting broadband speeds. Then, when the cities decided to take matters into their own hands, the telecoms stopped dragging their feet and started running to lawmakers for help

However, this outcome shouldn't be too surprising. Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie, Iredell) proposed H.129 and sure enough, she received $6,250 total in campaign donations from Time Warner, CenturyLink, and AT&T. Likewise, Time Warner's political action committee (PAC) has provided over $214,000 to state lawmakers since 2008. As for Governor Purdue, she received $3,000 in her winning gubernatorial campaign in 2008 from Time Warner. Time Warner also gave $10,000 to the Democratic Governor's Association -- which Purdue hosted -- in April.

Reuters recently reported that the United States ranks ninth out of 29 countries when it comes to broadband adoption (63 percent penetration). In addition, download speeds lag behind other countries. New York City residents, for example, average download speeds of 11.7 Mbps. Residents in Seoul, South Korea, however, are enjoying average download speeds of 35.8 Mbps.



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By Lerianis on 5/23/2011 11:48:26 AM , Rating: 2
rdhood, I have to say that capitalism only works for NON-necessities in life. For infrastructure? Capitalism simply doesn't work. Those kind of things have to be nationalized or regulated out the wazoo and companies forced to resell their services to other companies..... it's called 'linesharing'.


By interstitial on 5/23/2011 2:57:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, works fairly well in Britain. BT is subsidised by the government to provide universal line coverage and must allow other ISPs to use the lines at a regulated cost. We still have other, separate networks though so your ISPs are full of it when they say a government sponsored option would kill competition. I personally use Virginmedia from whom I get 100 down 10 up for the equivalent of about 50 dollars a month. Awful customer service but I get those exact speeds, even during peak times.

America needs to get it's act together on infrastructure or it's digital economy will start to lose out. The rest of the developed world either has advanced networks in place or is in the process of building them. The internet is getting to be as important as good roads.


By M4gery on 5/24/2011 3:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I have to say that capitalism only works for NON-necessities in life.


Works just fine for the food supply, and it doesnt get much more "necessary" than food.


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