The Empire Lobbies Back: How Big Cable Killed Competition in North Carolina

The Empire Lobbies Back: How Big Cable Killed Competition in North Carolina

Date: 3 Jan 2013 | posted in: information, MuniNetworks, Press Release | 5 Facebooktwitterredditmail

After a city in North Carolina built a Fiber-to-the-Home network competing with Time Warner Cable, the cable giant successfully lobbied to take that decision away from other cities.

The city of Wilson’s decision and resulting network was recently examined in a case study by Todd O’Boyle and Christopher Mitchell titled Carolina’s Connected Community: Wilson Gives Greenlight to Fast Internet. The new report picks up with Wilson’s legacy: an intense multiyear lobbying campaign by Time Warner Cable, AT&T, CenturyLink, and others to bar communities from building their own networks. The report examines how millions of dollars bought restrictions that encourage cable and DSL monopolies rather than new choices for residents and businesses.

Download The Empire Lobbies Back: How National Cable and DSL Companies Banned The Competition in North Carolina.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Common Cause present this follow-up report co-authored by Todd O’Boyle and Christopher Mitchell. It took several years, but Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, and AT&T finally succeeded in 2011 in their quest to stifle municipal broadband. The new restrictions make new public deployments virtually impossible in North Carolina.

Big cable and DSL companies try year after year to create barriers to community­‐owned networks. They only have to succeed once; because of their lobbying might, they have near limitless power to stop future bills that would restore local authority. North Carolina’s residents and businesses are now stuck with higher prices and less opportunity for economic development due to these limitations on local authority.

It certainly makes sense for these big companies to want to limit local authority to build next-­‐generation networks. What remains puzzling is why any state legislature would want to limit the ability of a community to build a network to improve educational outcomes, create new jobs, and give both residents and businesses more choices for an essential service. This decision should be made by those that have to feel the consequences—for better and for worse.

Read ongoing stories about these networks at ILSR’s site devoted to Community Broadband Networks.  You can also subscribe to a once-per-week email with stories about community broadband networks.

About ILSR: Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) proposes a set of new rules that builds community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics. The Telecommunications as Commons Initiative believes that telecommunications networks are essential infrastructure and should be accountable to residents and local businesses.  www.ilsr.org

About Common Cause: Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.www.commoncause.org

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Lisa Gonzalez

Lisa Gonzalez researches and reports on telecommunications and municipal networks' impact on life at the local level. Lisa also writes for MuniNetworks.org and produces ILSR's Broadband Bits podcast.