Commentary

Cable Companies Try To Cripple Municipal Broadband

Earlier this month, Time Warner had to back off its plan to implement an unpopular new pay-per-byte pricing system for broadband customers in Greensboro, N.C.

But residents of North Carolina now have to deal with another potential threat to their ability to access the Web at a reasonable price: Time Warner, along with other cable companies, is pushing for legislation that aims to cripple municipal broadband. A proposed bill in that state would impose crippling regulations on cities that want to build their own broadband networks.

The move comes after one North Carolina city, Wilson, has already proven that it's possible to deliver faster and cheaper broadband service than private corporations. Wilson spent $28 million to create another broadband option for residents. The service, called Greenlight, allows consumers to obtain basic cable, Web access at 10 Mpbs and digital phone service, for $99.95 a month. Time Warner offers something similar, though with slower broadband speeds, for an introductory rate of $137.95 a month, according to Daily Tech.

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If the bill passes, Wilson's Greenlight would be exempt, according to PC World. But the city still is fighting the measure. Wilson's public affairs manager Brian Bowman has launched a blog, Save N.C. Broadband, devoted to preventing the law from passing.

A Time Warner executive argued in a recent news report that it isn't fair for cities to tax the company and then use those funds to build a service that will compete with it.

Critics say cable companies are desperately trying to stifle competition. As it is, Time Warner Cable seems to have a good thing going. The company's financial results, released yesterday, show it made a profit of $164 million for the first quarter. Additionally, the company now boasts 8.6 million subscribers, up from 7.9 million last year, while the costs of providing broadband fell to $33 million from $40 million.

The North Carolina bill is slated for a vote next week.

1 comment about "Cable Companies Try To Cripple Municipal Broadband ".
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  1. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, May 1, 2009 at 8:13 a.m.

    sure, here we go. Cable companies give their lobbyists the mission to sabatoge the local governments attempts to truly benefit people on a daily basis. This will show how money will influence our "elected representatives" to work directly against the interests of those that elected them. Watch the power of corporate dollars kill the attempts of local governments to be of service if it cuts into corporate profit. The sad part of our current system is that the real people don't have the dollars to compete. They lose at every turn to corporate greed. Remember deregulation efforts? If you leave greed unchecked it's a losing battle for our country.

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