Free Press State Policy Tracker for NC

FreePress.net is keeping track of legislation throughout the United States. Including North Carolina’s bad bill HB1587. From their page Legislation in North Carolina I learned about a good article at MuniWireless.com called Here we go again!.

Here is an interesting bit:

A story this week in ComputerWorld highlights Charlotte where city officials have not proceeded with a deployment announced some time ago, due to the fact that they cannot find a compelling business case to proceed. Charlotte already has a number of different competitive operators. It quotes Susan Johnson, an executive with the city’s Business Support Services department., saying that the city has been unable to find a compelling business case for the deployment because it already has numerous private competing services and relatively low broadband access rates..

That may be true for markets the size of Charlotte, but what about the future of cities whose smaller populations make them unattractive markets for commercial providers? As in Pennsylvania, we have a case where telcos are attempting to force through legislation at the state level that protects potential future markets for them while forcing local leaders to jump through burning hoops to launch needed local initiatives.

One of HB1587’s sponsors is Rep. Saunders from Mecklenburg County, which contains the City of Charlotte. So are Utility committee members Rep. Earle and Rep. Gulley. I’d like to know more about the City of Charlotte’s search for a “compelling business case”. What was the process? How did they conclude it was not “compelling”? In my mind it is worth the hard work to find one.

HB1587 reads like it was written to make it harder for the City of Charlotte to complete a plan not easier. Why would a Representatives write a bill that makes it difficult for his constituencies to make publicly OWNED WiFi happen? Will Charlotte be grandfathered from this bill’s requirements if it should pass as a new clause would allow? Could it be possible that some members of local and state government in Charlotte want to protect telecommunications companies?

Fiscal responsibility of all local municipalities is important. But not at the cost of public safety, education, and equality. We can have good spending, balanced municipal budgets, and municipal networks. Arguments against municipal network construction on the basis of cost are simple diversionary tactics of conservative political pundits who put profit before people.

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