Telcos lobby North Carolina to make community Internet illegal, then abandon the state to second-worst Internet in the country

Christopher sez,

A lot of people were frustrated in 2011 when the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill written by Time Warner Cable to revoke local authority to build community-owned networks. A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Common Cause explains how Time Warner Cable, AT&T, and CenturyLink bought their bill.

In the two years since, the big companies have refused to invest in better networks and AT&T just announced layoffs for some call center workers. Meanwhile, the state is tied with Mississippi for last place in the US in the number of households subscribing to at least a "basic broadband connection" according to the FCC. Perhaps these decisions should be made locally and not by corporate lobbyists?

The Empire Lobbies Back: Killing Broadband Competition in NC



  1. Offhand comment, how is a bill that prevents communities from chartering a publicly owned ISP not an actionable ‘restraint of trade’.  A fun thought would be to have a communited charter an ISP, then sue the state and the telco’s for restraint of trade.  The amusing thing is is, you might be able to use power of discovery to dig into the various relationships between law makers and their staffs and the telco’s.

    1. Local governments are creatures of the state, so states have the power to restrict them in ways they cannot regulate the private sector.

      Of course, just because they can doesn’t make it a good idea to interfere in local decisions…

      1. Shouldn’t those local governments be creatures of the people who live in those communities, though?

  2.  “the primary function of government is to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority of the poor.” – James Madison

    1. Hey look at that, a botched quote derived from a Chomsky text. 

      “The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa, or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge of the wants or feelings of the day laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe; when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability. Various have been the propositions; but my opinion is, the longer they continue in office, the better will these views be answered.”

      1. Yes, the full quote paints an even more bleak picture than the summary. Madison feared the same things they had taken from the king would be taken from themselves. Aristotle saw the same issue centuries before, the solution being either reduce poverty or reduce democracy. Madison choose the easier solution, reduce democratic access, that just happened to keep his class in power. The landed gentry that had profited from the benefits of monarchy but then threw off the monarch were now barons with no divine mandate.

  3. The fact this coincides with AT&T staff getting vibrating ,heated ,motion detecting ,self cleaning anti stick toilet seats is just a coincidence.

    North Carolina when asked responded: our pigeons are just fine for messaging .we only needed the net for fishing and the butterfly food feast once a year .

    Besides they only have one shopping mall there right , why expose them to the www , think of them as a lost tribe living in a prehistoric world unmarred from you tube comments or facebook slander , University’s could study them in a few decades and learn about how humans use to say hi to each other .

    Rumor has it the mailman uses a flare gun to announce delivery because they cross dogs with komodo dragons to increase the drooling . North Carolina residents claims its like bread crumbs , owners can track their dogs easier when out hunting the rabbits crossed with badgers to eradicate the ferocious Monsanto thug weeds that displaced every other natural plant in North Carolina . Even though the bright red crawling plants make Carolina visible from mars, some thinks it could cause problems for motorist identifying pedestrian dressed in red & stop lights over the long term.

  4. It seems like there is a conflation of ‘investing in better networks’ and ‘subscribers’ here when talking about what qualfies as best and worst internet.

    The internet I have doesn’t seem so bad and I am not in a particularly large town. But also I am thinking of ditching the internet. Will the lack of subscription to ‘basic broadband’ indicate a bad internet experience for the remaining users?

  5. It’s sorta well known by those who pay attention that regulations always protect the incumbent against competition by smaller businesses, but this is brash, even for them.

  6. in the number of households subscribing to at least a “basic broadband connection” according to the FCC.

    I think that’s partially due to the fact that outside of the larger urban areas there can be poor population density for things like DSL or even cable TV.

      1. I’m failing to see how the available cable speeds in Charlotte affect the number of households across the entire state that have some level of high speed connection.

        Charlotte or RDU ≠ all of NC

        Now I agree that what’s available in Charlotte, along with the triad and triangle areas is pretty shitty, especially when you compare speed tiers to price.

        I understand that it can be more expensive to upgrade a set area/number of households when the population density is lower, but a lot of this is politics at its finest.  The problem isn’t the fact that our general assembly caved to the telecos (well it is, but they are a whole other set of problems), its the fact that the telecos we have don’t really have any competition.  Piss TWC or AT&T off and what other options due you have?  Even if you did setup your own high speed internet someone has to provide that backbone…

    1. That would make sense except as far as broadband penetration goes they are lower on the list than Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska. NC has a population density of 198.2 inhabitants per square mile making it the 15th most densely populated state in the US. Compare that to Montana with 6.8 people per square mile.

      Clearly, population density is not at all an issue here.

    2. NC is not nearly as rural as you may think. Outside of urban areas, places that may seem rural, there are people everywhere. It’s the 10th most populous state in the country and the 15th densest. There is no excuse for the low level of broadband penetration other than a very stagnant marketplace.

    1. Except this was one government PREVENTING other governments from averting corporate control of society.

      And, government not having the power doesn’t mean that the power doesn’t exist, it just means that the government can’t stop the power from being taken. Granted, a government existing doesn’t mean that won’t happen either, as in this case, but without government, it still would’ve happened.

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