Telecommunications giants 1. People 0. Perdue lets HB129 become law | News
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Telecommunications giants 1. People 0. Perdue lets HB129 become law

Posted by on Fri, May 20, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Governor Bev Perdue will let House Bill 129, the anti-municipal broadband bill become law today, opting to neither sign nor veto the legislation before the midnight deadline.

She issued a statement (full text below) saying she both wants every North Carolinian to have Internet access and seeks rules to prevent cities from having “an unfair advantage over providers in the private sector.”

Crews in Wilson installed fiber lines in 2008 for the town-run broadband Internet service. Municipalities such as Wilson, where broadband is already in place, received exemptions in the bill.
  • File photo by D.L. Anderson
  • Crews in Wilson installed fiber lines in 2008 for the town-run broadband Internet service. Municipalities such as Wilson, where broadband is already in place, received exemptions in the bill.
Her decision is a crushing blow for Internet access advocates, who have fought bills for four years arguing that broadband must be viewed as a valuable public utility that the government should provide as it does for water, sewer and mail.

As we previously reported, the legislation, innocuously titled “Level the Playing Field/Local Gov’t Competition,” will limit local governments from providing broadband service to residents by requiring municipalities to pay a fee to the state equal to what a private provider would pay in taxes, forbidding them from using tax revenue to fund the projects and forcing a referendum to be held before moving forward, effectively allowing the private companies to lobby citizens against municipal broadband without allowing the local government to make its case.

Governor Bev Perdue today issued the following statement on House Bill 129:

I believe that every school, household and business in North Carolina — no matter where they are — should have access to efficient and affordable broadband services.

There is a need to establish rules to prevent cities and towns from having an unfair advantage over providers in the private sector. My concern with House Bill 129 is that the restrictions the General Assembly has imposed on cities and towns who want to offer broadband services may have the effect of decreasing the number of choices available to their citizens.

For these reasons, I will neither sign nor veto this bill. Instead, I call on the General Assembly to revisit this issue and adopt rules that not only promote fairness but also allow for the greatest number of high quality and affordable broadband options for consumers.

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