Some city and town officials are crying foul over a bill that would limit their ability to provide high-speed internet to their citizens. North Carolina courts have twice ruled local municipalities have the right to provide broadband service: once for Morganton in the 1980s and again for Laurinburg in the mid 90s. Those towns, along with Wilson and Salisbury offer broadband to its citizens, and Fayetteville is planning to.
Salisbury Assistant City Manager Doug Paris says those court decisions make the argument against municipal broadband a weak one:
"In all fairness, this is a bill for Time Warner Cable, that has been written BY Time Warner Cable to protect their monopoly. And while it may be good for them, it may be VERY good for Time Warner Cable and for their shareholders and their bottom line, this bill will leave large areas of North Carolina behind in this new economy."
Paris says one of the problems with the bill is the requirement that municipal broadband has to be profitable from day one:
"Now, that’s virtually impossible, because you have to put in the infrastructure. And then you have to start signing up customers, and it takes a while to get the level of customers that you need, like any new startup."
The bill passed the state House earlier this week and is now headed to the Senate. Paris says the state’s future is too important to be putting up barriers when it comes to the deployment of broadband:
"Any group, you know, whether they are public or private, who is willing to make the investment in what is essentially our state’s future should be encouraged to do so. You know, they shouldn’t be prohibited. It’s awfully short-sighted."