Paper: Muni Broadband Bill Quietly Tucked Into Another Bill

Okay, I know there’s a lot to keep up with in this ongoing battle, but there’s a new development you need to know about. According to the Greensboro News and Record’s Mark Binker, the municipal broadband moratorium from senate bill 1209 has been moved to another bill, house bill 1840; apparently to get around a committee that the sponsor, Sen. David Hoyle (D-Gaston), considered unfriendly.

Here’s today’s story, courtesy of the News and Record:

Muni broadband moratorium put in another bill

For those watching the municipal broadband moratorium bill (background from me here and from the N+O here) you have another bill to keep track of.

The Senate Rules Committee attached the broadband study and moratorium as constructed in S 1209 and dumped it into H 1840, which has to do with extending E-NC authority.

I asked Sen. David Hoyle, chairman of the Rules Committee, why he was sending over a bill that has already passed the Senate.

“I’m sending it over with something the House likes,” Hoyle said. “I can’t get a committee hearing on the broadband.”

Rep. Bill Faison, the House committee chairman holding onto the bill, attended Senate Rules to watch the proceedings but did not comment to the committee.

This is the legislative version of trading paint. If the House fails to concur on H 1840, the measure will be sent to a conference committee. At that point, if no senator signs off on a conference report, the bill goes nowhere. So Hoyle can say, give me a hearing on the muni broadband bill or I lock up you E-NC bill.

“All I’m asking for is a hearing, an up or down vote,” he said. “It’s not fair for someone just to hold my bill and not hear it.”

That collective coffee spit you just heard was Senate Republicans thinking to themselves about all the bills they can’t get heard in their own chamber.


NC’s Broadband Fight Continues Tomorrow (Apr. 21)

Wilson’s municipal broadband operation is right on target. In spite of the difficult economy of the past two years, sign-ups are great. People are excited about Greenlight, and they’re showing their support by signing up.

The biggest obstacle, as I see it, is the constant stream of legislative attempts to limit cities and towns from offering this service. On Wednesday, April 21, Senator Daniel Clodfelter is expected to introduce a moratorium on municipal broadband in NC.

If he introduces a bill, or some other measure as expected, this will be the fourth attempt to stop municipal broadband in NC.

Here’s a little timeline of the cable company’s ever-changing reasons for the law:

2007: Cities and towns can’t possibly run a network like this. The taxpayers need protection from poor investments.
2009: Cities and towns have an unfair advantage. Cable companies need protection from these advantages.
2010: (as reported) Cities and towns aren’t paying enough tax money to the State. The State needs protection for its finances.

MediaPost News is running a great story today about NC’s broadband fight. I encourage you to read the story to find out more about this issue. The spokesperson for one of the companies was quoted as saying that, “By no means are we against the competition. We’re just saying that all competition should be on a level playing field.”

Interesting choice of words. They want competition to be on a level playing field. That’s the nickname of the monopoly protection bill from 2009. It’s almost as if they had a hand in crafting the bill, but that couldn’t be. Right?

If you can make it, we’d love to see you on Wednesday, April 21st at 9:30am in room 544 of the Legislative Office Building.

Monopoly protection bill comes up again this Wednesday (Apr. 21)

Just when you think the anti-municipal broadband bills have finally faded away, another one comes along. Long story short, the bills (which have been reconstituted several times since they were born in 2007) sandbag cities and towns in NC and effectively kill any future municipal broadband deployment. They were created in partnership with the cable company and their effect is to protect the company’s monopolies. You want cable? One place to get it. Don’t want dial-up or DSL? You have one choice.

For the full story, check out this post from Jay Ovittore from our friends at Stop the Cap!

Here’s a segment:

North Carolina’s incumbent cable and phone companies are once again trying to ram through an anti-municipal broadband bill, and their timing is designed to rush it through committee before a groundswell of consumer opposition has a chance to build.  Time is short — the bill will be taken up April 21st in the Revenue Laws Study Committee, so your immediate action is imperative!

This year’s push for anti-consumer legislation comes courtesy of Senator Daniel G. Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg County).

He reportedly wants a moratorium on all municipal broadband deployments on the alleged basis that these are bad for the private sector and will harm state tax revenue.  Hello?  Virtually every municipal broadband project underway fuels job creation as crews work to install the fiber optic networks that will come to represent an economic catalyst and job creator.  When communities no longer have to turn away digital economy jobs lost because of inadequate broadband by existing providers, that’s an economic victory for hard-pressed North Carolina, where unemployment is at 11.2 percent these days — 10th worst in the country.

If you’re available Wednesday morning at 9:30, we’ll be in the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, Room 544.

Great Facebook fan page available for community broadband

Communities United for Broadband

Communities United for Broadband

As countless cities and towns wait to see who will get the Google fiber gift, more communities are realizing that they may need to pursue fiber on their own.

Wilson asked the private service providers to build a fiber network and they said no, so we built it ourselves. Today, we have 100M synchronous connections available to homes and 1G connections available to business and industry.

Some folks who obviously know a lot about municipal broadband have created a great Facebook presence where you can learn more about this potential option. As great as the Google Fiber Initiative is, no one expects more than one or two cities to land a fiber network because of it. Wilson’s community-owned fiber network, Greenlight, is working better than expected two years in. It may also be a good choice for your community.

Broadband monopoly bill up for a vote tomorrow (5/6)

The bill that would force you to wait on the cable/phone supplier for better broadband speeds is up for a vote tomorrow morning (Wed., May 6) in the NC House Public Utilities Committee in room 1228 of the Legislative building on Jones St. HB 1252 would prevent any NC city/county/town from providing broadband services to its communities.

The vote should be interesting because just yesterday, some BIG private sector companies weighed in against the bill, saying it will stifle next-generation broadband development in our state. We’re talking Google, Intel, Alcatel-Lucent. This should end any notion that municipal broadband is about anything other than better service.

If you care about NC broadband deployment, I hope you’ll join us there. See you tomorrow. 🙂