Mood: crushed out
Now Playing: Internet Control = Time Warner fucks over average Joe Q Public
April 24th, 2009 by Megan Tady
Farmer Jay Foushee has pleaded with his phone company for years to bring high-speed Internet to his rural area of Roxboro, N.C. And across the state, where nearly five million people are offline, desperate residents have petitioned phone and cable companies to finally deliver this necessary lifeline.
“I have called our local phone companies numerous times asking, ‘When can we get [high-speed Internet]?’ ” Jay says. “I keep getting, ‘Well, it’s coming, it’s coming.’ And this has been going on for about three years now.”
How have the cable and phone companies responded to public demand for high-speed Internet? By writing a law that would keep the Internet out of people’s hands. AT&T and Time Warner Cable are pushing a piece of legislation (SB1004/HB1252) that would prevent millions of North Carolina residents from gaining access to the Internet and take the Internet away from residents who currently have it.
The proposed legislation would protect cable and phone company monopolies while squashing efforts by towns and cities to build their own local broadband networks. These municipal networks can connect areas that industry giants like AT&T and Time Warner have long overlooked.
It looks as though these companies will do anything to stifle competition, whether it’s crushing online video viewing, or blocking communities outright from connecting themselves to the Internet.
This week, the House Science and Technology Committee shifted the bill to the Public Utilities Committee (PUC).
Public outrage against the bill has been pouring in from across the state, and the Raleigh City Council approved a resolution this week opposing its passage. Activists are calling members of the PUC to urge them to kill the bill. You can help by contacting:
Chair Lorraine Coates (D-Rowan County)
Vice Chair Harold Brubaker (R – Randolph County)
Many cities and towns across the state have proposed building their own networks to connect their residents. And judging from the discussions during an InternetforEveryone.org town hall meeting in Durham in March, people want more Internet, not less. But the proposed legislation would ban these plans, and lock in AT&T and Time Warner Cables’s control of North Carolina’s Internet marketplace.
Brian Bowman, the public affairs manager for the city of Wilson, which offers its residents broadband, is warning that the legislation would destroy other towns’ attempts to create their own networks. He wrote on his Save NC Broadband blog:
NC Senate Bill 1004 and House Bill 1252 would change the law to stop other NC cities from providing broadband. The bills are titled “Level the Playing Field” but their effect is to protect cable monopolies in our state. A representative of the cable company told me Wilson would be exempt, but it’s still wrong for NC.
If the cable/phone companies really want a level playing field, they’d open their books like we do in the spirit of open meetings and open records law. They don’t want a level playing field. They want to be the only team on the field.
Why should we care about what happens in North Carolina? Because if this bill succeeds, don’t expect the phone and cable companies to stop with just one state. Does your state allow cities and communities to offer broadband to their residents? You could be next on Time Warner Cable’s legislative agenda.