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.
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.