This will be really interesting. Even for us folks in North Carolina. Why? Google just spoke out against HB1587, Google is building a HUGE facility in Lenoir, NC, Google bought a company called Skia in Chapel Hill which appears to be growing, etc.
Check out these two letters. One from Google’s State Policy Council John Burchett [PDF] and one from Intel’s Director of Communications policy Peter K. Pitch [PDF]. Both are to Speaker of the House Joe Hackney, Gov. Easley, and other Committee Representatives. They both speak against HB1587!
Google strongly opposes HB1587 and Intel writes in support of municipal network creation. Its wonderful to see these companies side with North Carolina municipalities.
It also bolsters my theory that the creation of HB1587 was motivated by the desire of Telecommunications companies to save old business models by buying legislation. New business models of the 21st century depend on open networks. Local municipalities can create open networks that support this model.
Local governments don’t spend millions of dollars and go through great hassle to create telecommunications monopolies. Most often they get into the business of providing infrastructure because the private sector won’t do it or can not do it at a high enough level. (DSL sucks and Cable modems are just enough)
The blog The Fiber Optic Files has a good post reminding us why Towns and Cities are creating broadband networks.
Seems like a good time for a refresher course because industry lobbyists are doing their best to frame the argument in the media.
They say itâ€™s about fair competition. What they clearly want is to protect their monopolies throughout NC cities.
You should know:
* Wilson asked the current cable provider to build an all fiber optic network in Wilson. They said â€˜noâ€™. Now they donâ€™t want us to do it either.
* The service offered by the incumbent is old technology. Wilson business and industry deserve the best communication tools available; just like theyâ€™d get anywhere in the world.
* Taxpayers arenâ€™t paying for this. Subscribers will pay for the network.
* No one will be forced to buy services from the city.
Government is not perfect. I do not have blind faith in any government. Running a network will be hard. But when local elections are decided by hundreds of votes individuals can have a say. We have a good form of democracy in many of our Towns and Cities. Thus when our local government does something we can steer it to act as a socially responsible body. In other words make sure government helps all people not just Wall Street. If I have to pick a partner for the future of my community and family I’ll pick my local government before large private companies. In the case of providing broadband, so should you.
While I work to fight HB1587 in the NC house I was wondering where our Presidential candidates might stand on this bill. HB1587 is ANTI-Net Neutrality on a very local level. Federal anti-net neutrality legislation isn’t going fast enough for the telcos so they went to the state legislature. So today I found a letter John Edwards wrote to the FCC. (Hat tip to Micah Sifry on Tech Pres)
Via Electronic Comment Filing System
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20554
Re: Docket 07-52, In the Matter of Broadband Industry Practices
I understand today is the last day that you take public comments before starting to decide whether the Internet is going to remain free and open, or whether a few big telecommunications and media companies will be able to decide what content we get to read, listen and watch first.
This question goes to the heart and soul of democracy. For democracy to work in this country, people need to be well informed and we need to hear a wide variety of diverse voices.
Equal access to the Internet is also important for growing our economy. Small businesses and entrepreneurs cannot hope to outbid big companies for preferred status on the Web. It is worth asking whether new businesses like Amazon and eBay could have emerged into fast-growing powerhouses if they had been shunted to the slow lane of the information superhighway.
If you do not guarantee net neutrality, the Internet could go the way of network television and commercial radio – with just a few loud voices and no room for the grassroots and small entrepreneurs. Our country is already divided enough between the haves and have-nots. Where we go to school, where (and if) we get health care, whether we can retire with dignity – we have big divides in all of these areas in this country. While we work to create one America, we should not allow the Internet to be divided so that some web sites work faster based on who can pay the highest access fees. That would make the other important work we have to do that much harder.
I urge the FCC to continue to preserve free expression and commerce on the Internet by continuing to enforce net neutrality.
THANK YOU John Edwards! Ever since you’ve sat and listened to podcasters and bloggers I’ve felt we had hope you would support Net Neutrality. Sometimes I wonder if I support Edwards cause he’s a local boy. But now I know there is another plank in his platform that REALLY matters to me.
In the 21st century the power required to bring about equality will come from the Internet. The amount of power obtained will be determined by how much information you can create and have access too. Net Neutrality is vital to a future of equality. A modern populist is a techno-populist who supports Net Neutrality.
I hope President Edwards will be a techno-populist. How will JRE bridge the digital divide if he becomes president?
In 2001 I went to Burning Man for the first time. I went by myself. I didn’t know anyone there. (Thanks to Mike L I got introduced to some Burners.) I drove up with someone I met just before the long ride from Berkley. It was a formative time in my life to say the least. While there I shot video of “The Man” with my crappy hi8 video camera. I made this video as a token of thanks and love. Its for the people on the playa that fed me and treated me like a King. For some reason I didn’t share this with too many of them. I’m not sure why. Now just about six years later its online. Funny how times burns.
Fiona Morgan writes another great article about HB1587. She covers the important parts of the last vote in the NC House Public Utilities Committee meeting well. I know because I was there.
Here is one part I didn’t know about. From Anti muni-broadband bill moves forward
There are still many questions about the bill’s impact. According to legislative staff, it would not affect free Wi-Fi service, as it only applies to services provided for a fee. But it could affect public-private partnerships, or any service that “provides a financial benefit” to a local government.
I remind people that the foe we are dealing with does not have a history of honest deal making. Not to mention legislative staff are not law makers. Either way you look at it I WANT my local government to have the option of making money. Wouldn’t that be better for them to be self sustaining that have a big tax increase? Not to mention that giving away resources cost money. I am all for free WiFi for the people but we must have options to pay for that needed service. HB1587 would completely stop local governments from getting into the business of helping its citizens. For what ever reason.
The sad fact is many local governments in North Carolina are not as forward thinking as the City of Wilson. The technology involved in broadband is complicated. Council Members, Alderman, and Mayors are often times not technologist. We need more geeks out there to help enlighten our Representatives. Local, State, and National.
On June 6, 2006, the NC House Public Utilities Committee voted to move forward on House Bill 1587. HB1587 places severe restrictions on NC cities that work to provide superior broadband Internet, cable TV and phone service. The city of Wilson has had an all-fiber optic network in place since March, 2006. Wilson is expanding that network now to reach every home and business. This video shows the June 6 vote. DON’T SHUT THE G.A.T.E. Greater Access to Technology for Everyone