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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Anti-muni broadband bill goes before House commmittee tomorrow

Posted by on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 2:38 PM

The battle over municipal broadband Internet services continues tomorrow, May 6, when the N.C. House Public Utilities Committee will be the second to consider House Bill 1252, which would severely limit the ability of local governments to provide broadband Internet and other telecommunications services.

The committee meets at 10 a.m. in Legislative Building room 1228. A vote is expected.

The North Carolina Cable and Telecommunications Association has been running push-polls across the state to generate support for the bill, which it says will "level the playing field" by forcing municipal service providers to add fees and meet other requirements when they compete with private industry.

And Americans for Prosperity, the same group that sponsored "tea parties" on tax day, is also running robocalls in favor of the legislation and trying to rally support online.

Opponents are mobilizing, too. They say the bill would effectively stop local governments from providing Internet service even when private companies choose not to offer the speed and availability citizens and local businesses need.

A blog called Stop the Cap!, which voices opposition to Time Warner Cable's recent proposal to cap its customers bandwidth, had run a series of posts focusing on the North Carolina legislation, which is heavily backed by Time Warner Cable. Google recently joined Alcatel-Lucent, Intel and a number of other private industry groups in a joint letter to House Speaker Joe Hackney opposing the bill. The City of Raleigh and Town of Chapel Hill have also passed resolutions opposing it.

The bill passed the House Science and Technology Committee last month without a vote, and without a favorable recommendation, following testimony from many opponents.

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