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NC Governor Allows Anti-Community-Broadband Law

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the last-mile-socialism dept.

Government 356

zerocore writes "North Carolina governor Bev Perdue will not veto a bill that will limit small town municipalities' ability to create community broadband when private industry will not go there. 'The governor said there is a need to establish rules to prevent cities and towns from having unfair advantage over private companies. But she said she was concerned that the bill would decrease the number of choices available to consumers. The bill would require towns and cities that set up broadband systems to hold public hearings, financially separate their operations from the rest of government operations, and bar from them offering below cost services. They also couldn't borrow money for the project without voter approval in a referendum.'"

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Open Source Broadband (2, Interesting)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202148)

How about the Open Source crowd figuring a way to deliver broadband for free or close to free? Why not!

Re:Open Source Broadband (0)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202220)

A bizarre hedge?

Well, because Governments and Companies [just government really] can't consume open source.. it's too free.

Re:Open Source Broadband (1, Redundant)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202256)

The only way to do so will involve miles of red tape to procure rights of way, etc, and leaving your wifi open is already illegal in some places. Big business makes the rules, and the government enforces them. That is its purpose..

Re:Open Source Broadband (1, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202272)

Even if bandwidth is close to free, the hardware to control it, and network connections aren't.

Re:Open Source Broadband (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202540)

I think that's what "close to free" means.

Re:Open Source Broadband (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202710)

There's no close to free in initial startup costs unless the OS/OSS community can come up with their own cheaply manufactured commercial grade hardware and software for routers/switches/innerconnects. That can be built off the shelf for a dime a dozen.

Re:Open Source Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202622)

Which would mean you would have to charge at cost or 5%-10% above cost in order to handle expenses plus unforeseen circumstances. There is a long way between that, and what the broadband companies are charging now (with is more in line with what jewelers have as a markup for their wares). You could have an established model to purchase routers, wide band broadband connections (you will have to connect to the wider internet at some point). You make it sound like open source people don't know how to add or do accounting. I suppose the issue is that they usually are against monopolies, usury and gouging, and are generally more permissive in what they allow people to do. HOW DARE THEY! If set at the high point (10%), there is even room for profit. What there would be no room for is paying an executive $500,000 per year to polish a chair (with their ass). HOW DARE THEY! You would still get reliable 24/7 service.

Re:Open Source Broadband (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202692)

Because the annoying laws of physics say you can't make equipment from nothing, and you can only squeeze so much data through a finite wireless spectrum.

Ummm (3, Insightful)

maugle (1369813) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202152)

Is there a problem here? If the bill is truly what the summary (read the article? never!) makes it out to be, it sounds quite reasonable.

Re:Ummm (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202178)

Right. More public projects should have to comply with requirements like these. Transit systems being an excellent example.

Re:Ummm (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202202)

Because the oil is going to last forever and gas prices will soon return to what they were in the 1990s, right?

As much as some might gripe that public transit systems have to be subsidized, at least they are laying the foundations of how people can get around once the middle class is eroded and fuel is too costly.

Re:Ummm (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202498)

But once everyone rides transit, who is going to fund its losses? Better to lay the foundation of a transportation system that can pay its own way* now rather than squeeze cash out of private car drivers who will become increasingly scarce as time goes by.

*We tried that a few years ago in Seattle. But the political machine shit themselves and killed it in favor of a system that allows them to slosh public funds back and forth to the point that nobody really knows what their rail system costs.

Re:Ummm (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202560)

Although taxing fuel or road use is a popular means of paying for public transportation, it's not the only possibly way to cover losses. The funds could also come from e.g. property taxes.

Re:Ummm (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202612)

But once everyone rides transit, who is going to fund its losses? Better to lay the foundation of a transportation system that can pay its own way* now rather than squeeze cash out of private car drivers who will become increasingly scarce as time goes by.

Who pays for the road infrastructure? In most places all road transport receives a hidden subsidy in the form of the road infrastructure. The only fair way would be to charge all road users -- cars, lorries, bikers, pedestrians, cyclists, horses... -- per use, according to their demands on the system. It's not going to happen, so there will be subsidies. The argument is over where the subsidies will fall.

Re:Ummm (2)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202628)

Roads don't pay their own way, even with fuel taxes. All you're doing is deciding one is a necessity, and one isn't.

Re:Ummm *facepalm* (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202354)

Right. More public projects should have to comply with requirements like these. Transit systems being an excellent example.

Transit systems are a completely different beast. The cost savings for the city are only found when you look outside the system. More productivity when workers can get to work because they aren't in traffic. less road rage. less accidents. less emergency runs for car accidents meaning police have more time for looking for criminals. less road repair. Firemen putting out fires instead of carrying the jaws of life to cut some guy out of his SUV rollover.

If you don't understand how the system works, go to New York. Or Shanghai, or London. Just try owning a car in one of those cities.

Re:Ummm *facepalm* (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202448)

Same things apply to telecommuting. You can also apply the same logic municipalities use for improving infrastructure (attracting business), funding schools (education) and a bunch of other things to installing broadband.

So we either vote on everything, or let the city council make some judgments on their own.

Re:Ummm (5, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202214)

No, it isn't. Even if it is just what the summary says, you have to adjust for the fact that the person who says it is almost certain to believe that any time the government provides a service at any price that it drives businesses out of business clear across the country.

I fail to see how communities creating their own broad band in areas where commercial ISPs aren't willing to create the service is going to create an unfair advantage to those communities. The main motivation behind the bill is pandering to a greedy and incompetent telecommunications industry.

If there were some reasonable hope of commercial ISPs going there, then yes this might be a problem. But I live in Seattle and we're likely to have to go this route because the ISPs refuse to provide us with decent affordable service. I'm fairly lucky where I live to only have to pay $50 a month and have the privilege of getting 5mbps for that, whereas in other parts of the country it's trivial to get 40mbps for $55 a month.

I think that if we were going to do it, these sorts of regulations would make some sense, but even there if the community is making a broad band network that works, I fail to see why we need commercial ISPs at all.

Re:Ummm (0)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202558)

What? Did you even READ the summary? It does not prevent municipalities from setting up broadband. It ensures that municipalities don't just dive in face first without some public input first. Looks just fine to me. When it involves a community where no broadband provider wants to go and does NOT prevent municipalities from making a community broadband project, how exactly is it pandering to big telecommunications industries?

Do you kneejerk like this all the time or is this a special case?

Re:Ummm (3, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202298)

Based on TFS, though, the killer is the requirement that the system be run as a separate entity, unsubsidized. If a municipality wanted to do this, it would make sense for the municipal network to fall under the city's IT department. It looks like that's not possible. Furthermore, why should the state care? If a city wants to do this, surely the locals can figure out whether it's worth the taxes or not.

I'm a big fan of private business, but this is akin to the laws that prevent the government from competing with private business for anything - so instead of having electronic tax filing provided for free at the IRS site, we have to pay a private entity to do the filing for us. The IRS still has to have a back end paid for with tax money.

Re:Ummm (3, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202338)

The problem is that it's anticompetitive to run the service using tax dollars. If Business A (run by the city) is tax subsidized, then nobody will choose Business B's service. If they did, they would have to pay Business B more for the same service even though they're already essentially paying Business A through their taxes. This pretty much ensures that Business B will never expand service to that area, even if it would have been profitable otherwise.

If you instead do what this bill appears to propose, then the city government can ensure that their service goes to places that the private companies won't go right now, but it still leaves the door open for the private companies to go there later once the population grows enough to make it worthwhile.

Re:Ummm (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202524)

The money flow is the same. Taxes come from the people just like cash. The difference being a democratically selected municipality being funded instead of near-criminal deceptive telecoms with armies of lawyers (read: No Liability).

Re:Ummm (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202550)

This isn't a competitive industry. I'm sorry, but I'm not sure where you got the idea that internet service was competitive. Somebody owns the wires going to your house, and they get to charge whatever they like for that knowing that there are at most one or two other options.

Around here the mayor wanted to do something like this 6 years ago and was told by Qwest that they'd be doing something about the problem in the near future. Well, it's 6 years later, the infrastructure still sucks and Qwest hasn't done jack shit about it. They just keep taking people's money because we don't have other options. Comcast managing to be even worse than Qwest.

When you take into consideration the fact that these towns weren't profitable to provide service in the first place, I'm really curious as to what the justification for pretending that treating broadband as a utility is so bad.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202656)

Comcast managing to be even worse than Qwest.

[citation needed]

Practical example exists (1)

vuo (156163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202574)

Everyone's talking theoretical, when there is practical precedent: waste collection. In Finland, waste collection was privatized, but in most municipalities, with a catch: the market leader is a municipal corporation. In itself there's nothing wrong with this, except when municipalities interpret this so that the municipal corporation has the right to tell where to place different trashcans, and to force each household to pay their rate. In fact, there is a case where a municipality forced a private corporation to remove their sorted waste collection points (i.e. collecting glass, metal, and paper separately) since it was competing with the municipal corporation. The municipal corp's corresponding point was kilometers away. So, the effect was that the municipality forced people to walk miles and miles to dispose of their sorted waste. This is harmful to both the environment - since people won't care about waste sorting if the gov't is hostile to that - and market fairness. The really *wrong* thing about this is that the legistlature and the courts think they have the democratic right to regulate this in this manner. I think that a municipality should have the right to provide a broadband service, but not with special legal protection.

Re:Ummm (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202594)

So... in other words, the locals do all the hard work and set up the infrastructure and establish a customer base, then the businesses can come in and operate at low margins (since they can take the loss) and don't have the cost of loans to set all that up? That doesn't sound fair to me. Seems to me that businesses should be willing to compete with a local government based on the business' (presumed) superior levels of service and resources. If the argument is that a megacorporation isn't a better ISP than a city government, then perhaps the megacorporation does not deserve to survive in that sector.

Re:Ummm (1)

Elviswind (1959800) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202716)

Hard work? It's not like the citizens of these towns are all coming out on Saturday with their shovels and installing the infrastructure themselves like it's some sort of Amish barn-raising with a square dance at the end of the day.

Re:Ummm (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202646)

If you instead do what this bill appears to propose, then the city government can ensure that their service goes to places that the private companies won't go right now, but it still leaves the door open for the private companies to go there later once the population grows enough to make it worthwhile.

Except the only credible reason that private companies won't go there is that it's not commercially viable, so the city government can't do what this bill proposes.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202652)

If Business A (run by the city) is tax subsidized, then nobody will choose Business B's service. If they did, they would have to pay Business B more for the same service even though they're already essentially paying Business A through their taxes. This pretty much ensures that Business B will never expand service to that area, even if it would have been profitable otherwise.

Um, why should anyone care whether Business B would expand into an area because it's suddenly profitable? The whole point of municipal broadband is precisely to offer broadband to a municipality. If Business B can do it cheaper, though economy of scale, even though they have the overhead of profit margins, that's great. Yes, Business A shouldn't be subsidized by tax dollars over the long-term (although a short-term loan might make sense if the people demand it, which the bill implies is how events should transpire). Nor should Business B get tax breaks.

In fact, I'm generally happy with the bill except with one point. It should be required that no exclusivity of service should be enforced by law, either directly or indirectly; this includes hiring Business B to run the municipality broadband service. Hence, if Business A can be run efficiently enough to be below the prices of Business B for the same service after the point at which the area would be profitable for Business B, then Business B may very well choose to never expand into an area as a byproduct inherent to the system.

Re:Ummm (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202662)

This is why the city should only own the last mile infrastructure. Let the ISPs lease last mile connections from the City. Then the ISPs can compete on supplying an internet connection instead of who owns the right-a-way to the last mile infrastructure..

You could still have like a 1/1mbit internet connection via the city for some low price like $10/month or something. This way really poor people can still get the basics without competing with ISPs for services.

Re:Ummm (1)

thaylin (555395) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202668)

How is it anti-competitive for a government to support its citizens with a service that NO OTHER COMPANY will.. Read the article, this bill covers areas where business dont think it is profitable to enter so they dont. In return the state makes it so that in order for the city to run their own they would have to lose money... Lose/lose for its citizens.

Re:Ummm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202410)

I know when will these freeloaders stop with their subsidized services? I mean look at what happened to all those communities where private industries took over electric costs...what was that prices skyrocketed because they were given an unregulated monopoly after the public sector laid the infrastructure? Maybe the question for you should be, if offering services at a reasonable cost wasn't a threat to companies why would they spend a quarter million dollars in "campaign donations" to get the vote to go their way? You essentially saying that businesses have a right to control what people do with their own money. They are using town money to provide a town service that benefits everyone as much as any other public utility.

Re:Ummm (3, Informative)

Kongming (448396) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202608)

The article does not mention what I consider the most burdensome aspect of the bill. In addition to requiring the approval of the local community, any municipality hoping to set up service requires the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission: (3) Upon the request of a communications service provider, the Commission shall accept written and oral comments from competitive private communications service providers in connection with any hearing or other review of the application. (4) In considering the probable net revenues of the proposed communications service project, the Commission shall consider and make written findings on the reasonableness of the city or joint agency's revenue projections in light of the current and projected competitive environment for the services to be provided, taking into consideration the potential impact of technological innovation and change on the proposed service offerings and the level of demonstrated community support for the project. (5) The city or joint agency making the application to the Commission shall bear the burden of persuasion with respect to subdivisions (1) through (4) of this section. These criteria are sufficiently vague that if corporation-friendly commissioners are appointed (likely in this state), the Commission has plenty of leeway to reject whatever applications it wants, especially given the tone set by the burden of proof clause in article 5. I personally see no benefit to giving state governments the power to restrict services that local communities wish to offer with the consent of their citizens. I find this issue to be another example of the fact that neither major party in the US actually supports the principle of strong and independent local governments; they simply claim it when it happens to be convenient given the particular issue at hand.

Re:Ummm (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202698)

The end effect may be that the citizens of a small community won't be able to get broadband because there is no company that want's to provide it and the municipalities are banned from doing it.

Re:Ummm (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202700)

That was my reaction too. Lessig overreact on this one?

Oh No!!! (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202158)

It sure would be terrible if those huge corporations had to compete with under served communities and their pesky unfair advantages!

Re:Oh No!!! (3, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202226)

Damn straight, we all know that corporations are good and that gubmint is evil and providing quality services will ultimately lead to us all being slaves to the all power President.

The best legislators money can buy (0)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202164)

North Carolina governor Bev Perdue will not veto a bill that will limit small town municipalities' ability to create community broadband when private industry will not go there.

Because no service can ever make the transition from "luxury" to "utility". Instead of letting a community decide for themselves if they want to provide the service, those freedom loving NC Republicans will just pass a law to protect that market for ISP's.

Freedom! *

* Except when your freedom impacts the bottom line of one of our big campaign donors. Actual freedom may vary.

Re:The best legislators money can buy (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202276)

Bev Perdue is very much a democrat, and seems to want government interference in everything else - just not where it might actually help the state.

There's a reason people and businesses are leaving in droves...

Re:The best legislators money can buy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202636)

If people are leaving in droves, it's probably because the government is being openly co-opted by business while the electorate ignorantly argues about which part of the government is complicit, as if some of them are not. Republicans and Democrats are both for big government except where it conflicts with big business; the only difference of opinion is exactly where to draw that line. Everything else is distraction.

Re:The best legislators money can buy (3, Informative)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202578)

Another toolbag who didn't read the article, much less the summary beyond the first sentence. It does not prevent municipalities from creating community broadband. It requires them to get public input before getting involved and to set up the finances to reduce the chances of it becoming a money sink.

So, err, WTF? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202166)

Not getting why a community can't build their own broadband, and at the same time allow private companies to compete on the same fiber (or add their own fiber).

'course, this isn't the first time that the cablecos/ISPs have banded together to push politicians to enforce mono/duopoly. See also UTOPIA [utopianet.org] . Comcast and Qwest raped quite a few cities (and bought more than a few politicians) to keep that network restricted, lest they have to compete on a level playing field...

Re:So, err, WTF? (3, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202456)

My company gets our internet to our servers via a small town utility... it is excellent service. I have a 15Mb/s fiber directly into the server room. At the same time, Verizon gives a few bundled T1's and tells us we should be grateful. We want more speed from them, and they tell us we would have to pay thousands and thousands to trench some fiber out to us. (we told them we would consider it, if we got to share revenue from ANYONE else that connected to that fiber that we would have paid for in our large business park, and they stopped talking to us).

Meanwhile, both verizon and charter are fighting hard to stop the utility from expanding service. They went into a neighbourhood, and started offering a few megabits for something like $25/month, which was enough for the utility to make a profit (they don't have to pay for lobbying, or for TV stations, etc). 75% of the residents in that neighbourhood switched within 2 months! Many paid the cancellation fees to get out of contracts, because the service was cheap, worked well, and actually gave the advertised speed.

Re:So, err, WTF? (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202584)

Did you even read the summary? It does not prevent municipalities from creating community broadband. It requires them to get public input before getting involved and to set up the finances to reduce the chances of it becoming a money sink.

Since when (1)

cyberfin (1454265) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202170)

do the companies have the right to protect their abusive and unfair practices... Free market anyone? Is it not possible to create broadband associations like there are housing associations? I think company intrusion is reaching dangerous levels.

Re:Since when (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202730)

You know, a non-municipal co-op is an idea I don't actually think I've heard put forth before. The *general* argument is that the municipality has to itself install (or have installed at its instance, as the telco guys used to say) the fiber, and allow all comers on it at non-discriminatory terms, as compensation for *denying any other comers* the franchise right to dig up all the yards *again*, which is the *real* goal here: last-mile fiber is a Natural Monopoly, and should -- and can -- be run in a fashion which *benefits* the municipalities residents (which is the goal of the muni itself, and is *decidedly* not the goal of any of the Public Corporations[1] which might want to trench their own fiber).

[1]Public Corporations Suck.

Re:Since when (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202740)

Oops, sorry: "Letting a co-op have that right against other commercial comers gets a bit murky, legally, *I think*."

Stupid influenced politicains. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202172)

I live in NC and can't believe this is happening. Making small towns adhere to this convoluted rigamarole discourages innovation as well as competition and actually reduces the number of choices available to people who are sick and f'n tired of paying through the nose for internet and having few other choices (DSL) than Time Warner for non-satellite service. Time Warner realized that the communities who decided to buck the system and maintain their own internet systems were able to offer a better product to consumers for a lot less money. How can they compete with that? Prevent them from doing it in the first place, that's how.

Democracy + Lobbyists = Not a democracy.

Contradictory summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202184)

The start of the summary and the title suggest that the law prevents the creation of community broadband, the quoted text following seems to merely say that there must be oversight and that they can't use the fact that it's run by local government to undercut private competition. Which sounds fair enough. Besides, if the earlier claim that this will be used to prevent municipal broadband in places "private industry will not go" then that's an irrelevance anyway.

I call TROLL on the whole peice.

Biased summary (1)

dontbgay (682790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202186)

I'm having a hard time understanding how it's a bad thing. The proposal should get voter approval in the municipality to be serviced. It shouldn't be run as a government agency, but more of a service to customers. The stipulation of the program not being able to offer services below cost doesn't even seem to be a bad idea. Where is the story here?

Re:Biased summary (1)

SlashdotWanker (1476819) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202240)

I'm having a hard time understanding how it's a bad thing. The proposal should get voter approval in the municipality to be serviced. It shouldn't be run as a government agency, but more of a service to customers. The stipulation of the program not being able to offer services below cost doesn't even seem to be a bad idea. Where is the story here?

has more to do with throwing up enough roadblocks to give big business ISPs enough time to say 'oh, look, they're going to create an ISP. let's go roll it out now so that we can hold onto our monopoly'

Re:Biased summary (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202322)

The stipulation of the program not being able to offer services below cost doesn't even seem to be a bad idea.

Many cities offer free or lower-cost services to elderly and disabled people, even when the services are actually run by private companies under contract (trash pickup and water/sewer for me). This bill appears to prevent that.

Re:Biased summary (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202342)

The stipulations make it impossible to run broadband as a government service.Instead, it would be a for profit corporation run by government bureaucrats. If it is run as a for profit corporation, why does it need voter approval?

This bill destroys the independence of local governments and their ability to offer services they think their community needs. Furthermore, it turns a representative democracy (what people often confuse with a republic) into a direct democracy. Where's the outcry over the overreach of big government? Where's the outcry over the evils of a direct democracy? What's that? Government is bad only if it offers services you disagree with? Representative democracy is bad if the choices the representatives make make you unhappy? Yeah, I thought so.

Re:Biased summary (1)

thaylin (555395) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202508)

Actually no.. It requires them to not be able to perform this task. It adds so much cost to the possibility of the project that it is unlikely to be able to perform the project.. Remember this is for places that are not served by broadband providers, actually that is not even correct. This is for areas that the other providers REFUSE to serve, yet now the cost to start the project is very prohibitive. As someone on slashdot I would have to ask how you would feel without broadband.

Below cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202192)

What does that mean? Below the actual cost of the service, or below the inflated costs of the commercial monopolies?

Re:Below cost? (1)

Elviswind (1959800) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202328)

I think the concern is that you can't subsidize the cost of the network by, say, charging extra for trash pickup or water and sewers.

Double Standard (5, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202200)

If a town wants to start a new bus line, or double the number of stops, or open a new school, or put water fountains on Main Street, they just hold a vote at a city council meeting.

If a town wants to hang some antennas to offer a public amenity on Main Street, probably costing about as much as the water fountains, they gotta go through the equivalent of a consent decree. This sounds like broadband provider protectionism to me. That a municipal utility can provide better service than a private utility is an open question and a lot of cities do very well with publicly-owned electric grids and traction transit; adding hoops to jump through for broadband wifi in particular is just a way of protecting Comcast's fiefdom.

Re:Double Standard (1)

punkin (461807) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202300)

Well said. Why shouldn't under served communities have the ability to provide services that no one else is willing to provide?

Re:Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202382)

adding hoops to jump through for broadband wifi in particular is just a way of protecting Comcast's fiefdom.

In this case it's Time Warner's fiefdom.

Re:Double Standard (1)

Elviswind (1959800) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202440)

Yes, but in most towns there is not a pre-existing private company that runs the bus line or installs water fountains in public spaces. And as far as schools go, in most towns, at least where I've lived, there is a public vote to approve increased property taxes to fund the new building. I know it's currently en-vogue to bash the telcos, but why shouldn't this be settled by a public vote rather than left to the desires and agendas of a few people in the city government.

With regards to under served communities, it's my understanding that they are exempt from some of the requirements in the NC bill.

Re:Double Standard (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202650)

Where are the 'free market capitalists' shouting from the rooftops about fair competition? Or is competition only allowed to private parties. Is a government entity essentially forbidden since it is answerable and operated by the people?

America, thy name is hypocrisy.

Over reach. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202216)

It's municipal infrastructure and they payed for it with their tax dollar. Yes, there are three cities with free public wifi next to me so.

Financial donations to Bev Perdue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202218)

"The campaign of Gov. Bev Perdue on Friday forfeited $48,000 for what it said were questionable campaign contributions from nine donors .. The contributors are all linked to Rusty Carter, who owns the Atlantic Corp., a packaging company in Wilmington". link [newsobserver.com]

"NC GOP Shines Spotlight On Bev Perdue’s Campaign Contributions" link [wordpress.com]

hmmm.... facism anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202230)

When the private monied interests control the state, that is the definition of fascism. Mussolini said that fascism should better be called corporatism.

Fucking Goddamnit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202234)

Private Companies winning again against small communites, can we just go ahead and have the revolution already? Tired of this shit and we are never gonna get to the moon if we can't at least get broadband to small communities, why are we going backwards?

The network belongs to the people (2)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202304)

Preach it brother.

Can't people be content with a genuine internet (not a centralized monstrosity) where people are contributing to websites Peer to peer the way it was designed?

Imagine that, everyone writing articles and blogging in their own sphere of their town. Beautiful. It would be like a wiki but at the town-level. That's what the web should be like.

Re:The network belongs to the people (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202528)

maybe we should found a church of Internet...

Re:The network belongs to the people (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202688)

The Church of Internet, memorable excerpts from the Surf book:

"In the beginning there was Gore and he shat the internet"
"Thou shall not ACK the troll..."
"the September spawn shall descend upon the peers of the net..."

Re:Fucking Goddamnit (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202642)

I've felt for some time that companies should be barred from running ISPs and handling the underlying infrastructure. The infrastructure in given areas should be owned by the government and rented to companies to manage. Those companies would be granted access for fixed periods of time and required to bid for it to continue the contract.

Or better yet, treat it like the electric company and make the infrastructure be run like a utility. Our electricity rates are low and the service in general is quite good, I cannot say the same about our broadband options. Seriously, duopolies of private firms suck.

But its ok for an unfair advantage for companies? (4, Interesting)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202236)

I am so sick of seeing this happen. The municipal wifi project in my town was canceled by time warner. The end result was that 3 years later there is still no public wifi downtown, half of the surrounding neighborhoods still dont have coverage for anything but dial up and the people living here have exactly 1 choice for internet. My cable/internet bill is $178 a month for basic cable and 5/1 internet service.

Re:But its ok for an unfair advantage for companie (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202424)

I call shenanigans on $178 for BASIC cable and internet. I bet any money you have a cable box that is probably a DVR as well as supports HD channels. None of that is basic cable. Your 5/1 service cant be more then $50/month in the US

Re:But its ok for an unfair advantage for companie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202506)

I call shenanigans on $178 for BASIC cable and internet. I bet any money you have a cable box that is probably a DVR as well as supports HD channels. None of that is basic cable. Your 5/1 service cant be more then $50/month in the US

While $178 sounds high to me as well, I have the lowest tier from Comcast in Portland, OR, with NO television and it is ~$60/mo.

Re:But its ok for an unfair advantage for companie (1)

stdarg (456557) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202658)

Basic cable probably refers to the selection of channels not the equipment. Today in a lot of areas you HAVE to get digital cable and a box, it's the lowest option the cable company provides.

Re:But its ok for an unfair advantage for companie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202686)

Sounds like he has the 'triple play'. Internet/Phone/Cable. That would be about right after the promo package has expired.

50-60 for internet, 50-70 for basic, 25-30 for phone. Plus any extra fees, plus any equipment rental charges. You are also hard pressed not to end up renting equipment these days too.

Re:But its ok for an unfair advantage for companie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202444)

Also, it really is a advantage we give ourselves! Over greedy companies.

That's something good!

Essentially, what they are saying is: Don't support your friends, because we shady strangers want your money!
I answer: FUCK YOU! :)

Re:But its ok for an unfair advantage for companie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202466)

in many areas, where people cant even get dialup and are given the choice of dialup or 3g access (then there are those areas that cant get either!) when a municipality wants to provide something that the locla teclo or cable provider wont even bother, they'll come out of their way to block it.

I dont think it's about making money, hell, they could easily get a corrupt city council to give them free access to those lines through some bullshit law or get state legislature to make it so they have the right to take them over, making claims that municipal wifi or fiber should allow anyone to provide a service, kind of like the laws they hate being applied to them.

However, they dont do that, they dont even want that. No, they decided that these areas will go without broadband, and that's how it's going to be because they decided it.

It's about power and control at this point. When a company gains a monopoly over an area, money isnt the name of the game, it's control and power over the people who have no power to deny you anything, people you can later extort and watch begging you for things you will not give them, while feeling empoweredt hat you can make people grovel before you. Many suits are this egotistical these days.

It's all a matter of "how dare they go against our wishes? We said no and it will be no.

North Carolina sucks, in too many ways to mention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202270)

I've lived in North Carolina for a few years, and I have visited friends there for
many years prior to living there.

This is easily the worst place I have ever lived. When my work contract ends,
I am leaving. And I'd rather live in hell than live in North Carolina again.

Allegory (4, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202278)

Someone should write an Onion [theonion.com] article about states banning/hampering municipal water systems because Coke and Pepsi demand it.

Re:Allegory (2)

chad_r (79875) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202544)

Someone should write an Onion [theonion.com] article about states banning/hampering municipal water systems because Coke and Pepsi demand it.

You're close. The product was Brawndo ("It's got what plants crave!"), and it was in a documentary called Idiocracy [imdb.com] .

What an intolerable burden! (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202284)

...hold public hearings, financially separate their operations from the rest of government operations, and bar from them offering below cost services. They also couldn't borrow money for the project without voter approval in a referendum.

So, in face, it's not even close to banning community broadband. It just requires real voter approval and financial responsibility.

Re:What an intolerable burden! (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202748)

No, it's not a ban, in the same way that I'm not banned from parking in handicap spaces, it's just really unaffordable to pay all those tickets and those pesky impound fees.

What the bill does is make it unaffordable for municipalities to set up their own broadband. Keep in mind that these are small municipalities where the normal ISPs refuse to provide service.

Sod this for a game of soldiers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202320)

Here in the UK we privatised the hell out of everything in the 80's under the promise that private industry could do it better, faster and cheaper.
Now communities in the US are forbidden from helping themselves because poor little private enterprise couldn't possibly compete with a small scale local ISP owned by it's customers.

Can we just admit that this fair-weather free-market bullshit helps no one but the rich and get the fuck past it now?

How to subsidize without stifling competition (2)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202362)

Wouldn't a more free-market solution be for the municipality to take the money that they would have used to provide broadband and offer it as a subsidy for anyone who is willing to provide broadband (with a set list of criteria and possibly a limited term for the subsidy)? This would encourage private companies (who we have seen time and again are more efficient at almost every type of business than government is) to provide the service. If the municipality wanted to, they could even form an independent non-profit organization to initially provide the service which would qualify them for the subsidy, provided other private businesses could still receive the subsidy if they later entered the market.

Rents (0)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202386)

For every need, from education to medical care to communication, there is a natural God-given right for private entities to collect rents to provide for it. This supersedes a presumed right of people to collectively and voluntarily provide it to themselves.

Fuck You (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202392)

Eat the crumbs that your corporate masters give you! And not a pittance more!

Where is the right to profit codified? (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202404)

Where in the constitution does it say business has a right to profit from societies needs?

Re:Where is the right to profit codified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202496)

Where in the constitution does it say that broadband is one of society's needs?

Re:Where is the right to profit codified? (1)

Elviswind (1959800) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202522)

This. And the right to profit isn't explicitly enumerated, but I believe it would fall under the 5th Amendment: "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." IANAL, so please correct me if I'm wrong.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202430)

This type of thing is just wrong! Broadband imterrnet, needs to become a public utility, provided at cost instead of a for profit business. The same thing needs to be done with water, gas, electricity, sewer service, trash pickup etc...

Public Works? (5, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202442)

Can we jsut get community wide IT infrastructure labeled as public works please? During the New Deal era, were toll road operators suing to prevent the national highway system? The idea that we should worry about private enterprise profits at the cost of public works is retarded.

gotta love how politicians always... (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202450)

...say the opposite of what is happening....

The municipaities would have no unfair advantage at all, but here she is pretending that the unfair advantage she gives to private businesses is making things fair.

Someone please start the shooting where it matters.

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36202476)

WTF is wrong with this country? We don't want you building your own wi-fi because it might be harder for our pre-existing monopolies to come in later? Kiss my fr*ckin ass I hope no community listens to this bullcrap.

Yeaaaa, because (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202478)

any group of people who band together and form a 'company' have the right to privately fuck all other people as they will. and, if they are not even wanting to come to your locale and screw you over privately - you shouldnt do anything - because their right to fuck you whenever they want, however they want should be preserved over what YOU want. crooked ? that's capitalism. until a capital owner decides to fuck you over, you people should just shut up and wait.

Restrictions seem reasonable (3, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202484)

Public hearings - local governments hold these for everything. Proposal to change the date for holding the public hearing on changing the amount of dues for sewage fees? Yeah, let's hold a hearing on that, too.

Financially separate operations - I'd honestly be angry if they weren't separate.

No below-cost service - Again, reasonable. Because doing so would either mean other tax money is being used, or that the government is borrowing to support it. Neither is good.

No borrowing without a referendum - A bit restrictive, but not too much so. Besides, since when has democracy been a bad thing?

I can easily imagine private companies being able to compete with this without absolutely dominating. Community broadband will likely be relatively slow - there's no incentive to go beyond what most people will use. A small business could probably work by providing higher-speed access at higher cost - those who want more speed will pay for it, but those who just need "good-enough" internet will be fine on community broadband.

Now, the one thing I am worried about is potential censorship. Certain highly-conservative communities might try to ban, say, pornography. Hyper-liberal communities might try to limit other things (a gaming curfew, similar to the recent Korean law, might be one of them). As far as I'm concerned, both are completely unacceptable. And also very likely to be tried - American politics tends to be very polarizing, even in homogeneous-party communities. I imagine most courts will throw the laws out, but you never know.

Re:Restrictions seem reasonable (3, Interesting)

stdarg (456557) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202644)

Financially separate operations - I'd honestly be angry if they weren't separate.

So should the internet division have its own revenue collection department and its own call center rather than adding a line item to the existing tax bill? That's adding inefficiency... why?

No below-cost service - Again, reasonable. Because doing so would either mean other tax money is being used, or that the government is borrowing to support it. Neither is good.

But that doesn't make sense. Aren't telecoms today required to provide below-cost service in e.g. rural areas? Isn't there some government funding (tax money) to help make that happen?

No borrowing without a referendum - A bit restrictive, but not too much so. Besides, since when has democracy been a bad thing?

The democratic part is where the community says "Hey let's have community internet."

The undemocratic part is where outside companies that don't even have a vote in the community say "Nope you have to go through this checklist of crap first."

We're talking about local municipal broadband, not state or federal. This isn't a central government building a service for people who are only loosely connected to them. It's small towns where everybody knows the mayor and the city council. They go to barbecues together.

Now, the one thing I am worried about is potential censorship. Certain highly-conservative communities might try to ban, say, pornography. Hyper-liberal communities might try to limit other things (a gaming curfew, similar to the recent Korean law, might be one of them). As far as I'm concerned, both are completely unacceptable.

I agree, but they do a pretty good job with stuff like electricity and water. I've never heard of an electric utility say "Sorry we won't provide power to a strip club" or "If you play bad games on your computer we'll cut your power because we don't like that."

Sounds like the law was written by a lobbyist (1)

Just Brew It! (636086) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202606)

We have reached a point where Internet service should be considered a utility, much like electricity, gas, water, sewer, etc.

Municipalities are allowed to provide these other services to their citizens; why not Internet service? Doesn't make sense to me.

There's always loopholes. (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202624)

Couldn't the municipalities just build out the fiber and switches and then lease it to a separate entity to provide the "management and service"?

More information at a local blog (1)

stdarg (456557) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202674)

There's a blog with more information: http://savencbb.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

It may also be interesting for people to read about the project that caused so much angst among ISPs: http://www.greenlightnc.com/ [greenlightnc.com]

If private industry can't compete against govmint (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202724)

then they have no right being in business.

really, you couldnt come up with something that competes against a base government service, even with the cost advantages that government has?

UPS and Fedex would like a word with you.

Makes sense (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#36202734)

Do you seriously want to get your internet service from the government? If the local government provides the broadband, I guarantee no telco is going to bring in their own service and compete with something not under the same market controls they are. So by allowing this you are basically ensuring that your only choice is government supplied internet. If you're ok with that, then fine... I certainly agree that ISPs are pretty much shit nowadays... but replacing them with the government? I just dunno.
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