Bill to Limit Community Broadband in North Carolina Will Kill Jobs

Date: 22 Feb 2011 | posted in: information, MuniNetworks, Press Release | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Contact: Christopher Mitchell,

Community Broadband Preemption Bill Will Kill Jobs, Reduce Competition & Slow Economic Development


While the rest of the world is working to become more innovative and competitive, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that will stifle innovation, hurt job creation and slow economic development. The Bill, H129/S87 will effectively prevent any community from building a broadband network and impose onerous restrictions on existing networks, including Wilson’s Greenlight and Salisbury’s Fibrant. Greenlight and Fibrant are the most technologically advanced citywide networks in the state, comparative to the best available in the U.S. and international peers, according to a study released by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) in November, 2010.

This bill will protect the aging networks of incumbent cable companies—furthering their effective monopolies—that have refused to invest in newer, faster technologies.

“This bill is a job and competitiveness killer. I don’t know why North Carolina wants to protect old technology, but if they want to get on the information super highway in a horse and buggy—the world is going to pass them by,” said Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR’s Telecommunications as Commons Initiative.

The bill says it is an act to “protect jobs,” a claim that puzzles Mitchell. “Community owned networks create jobs both directly and indirectly – and there is no evidence they have resulted in the elimination of any jobs.”

Most communities in North Carolina have access only to cable and DSL broadband, which offers slower speeds and less reliability than that of the more modern fiber-to-the-home technology used by Greenligh and Fibrant. AT&T’s next generation network, called U-Verse, has some fiber-optics but remains limited by its reliance on copper for the connection to houses. Time Warner Cable has been slow in updating its cable networks to the most recent technology, though even that is not competitive with fiber-optic networks.

Mitchell believes that communities represent the only opportunity for broadband competition in the current regulatory environment. “Private cable companies refuse to overbuild each other, phone companies struggle to compete with cable speeds, and wireless lags greatly behind wired networks in offering broadband. This is why communities are building fiber-optic networks and why companies like TWC fight so hard to outlaw them.”

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Christopher Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He runs as part of ILSR's effort to ensure broadband networks are directly accountable to the communities that depend upon them.