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NC Governor Allows Anti-Community-Broadband Law 356

Posted by Soulskill
from the last-mile-socialism dept.
zerocore writes "North Carolina governor Bev Perdue will not veto a bill that will limit small town municipalities' ability to create community broadband when private industry will not go there. 'The governor said there is a need to establish rules to prevent cities and towns from having unfair advantage over private companies. But she said she was concerned that the bill would decrease the number of choices available to consumers. The bill would require towns and cities that set up broadband systems to hold public hearings, financially separate their operations from the rest of government operations, and bar from them offering below cost services. They also couldn't borrow money for the project without voter approval in a referendum.'"
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NC Governor Allows Anti-Community-Broadband Law

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  • by b4upoo (166390) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:00PM (#36202148)

    How about the Open Source crowd figuring a way to deliver broadband for free or close to free? Why not!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mashiki (184564)

      Even if bandwidth is close to free, the hardware to control it, and network connections aren't.

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @01:14PM (#36202692)
      Because the annoying laws of physics say you can't make equipment from nothing, and you can only squeeze so much data through a finite wireless spectrum.
    • by straponego (521991) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @02:12PM (#36203072)
      Like Fon? [fon.com]
    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @03:17PM (#36203478) Homepage

      How about the Open Source crowd figuring a way to deliver broadband for free or close to free? Why not!

      It's hard to do -- I've made a few experimental wireless mesh networks using Linux firmware on a bunch of wireless routers. We're working on it, but really, no one with much power/money wants us to succeed...

      There are many problems to overcome -- the main three problems are: latency (many small hops over low powered wireless -- need to use longer range, but those frequencies are strictly regulated), congestion (limited available frequency ranges -- cooperation required for a "rolling" frequency allocation, easy to disrupt), but mostly the problem is the fact that you want something totally different that what we can really offer.

      The previous stated problem is better defined as such: You want "Broadband Internet" -- which is far more a specific requirement than "Broadband Network"; The former requires a choke point whereby lots of distributed traffic enters and leaves a hard-line connected to the Internet (at no cost!?!), the latter does not have the requirement but has to iron out many many issues before commercial entities will get on board.

      One big problem is adoption. Will you be willing to give up your current ISP, and the entire Web it allows you to access? If not, will you be willing to foot the bill for a node so that the free (as in freedom) network can operate along side, and in addition to your current ISP hardware? If so, will you be willing to bridge the two, despite rediculous "end user" threats (when you're really an ISP)? If not, will you publish content on the free net with a license that allows everyone to copy it infinitely?

      My mesh network had adequate speed for most uses (email, chat, voip), but streaming HD video did not scale well (100+ routers over 4 square blocks servicing approx. 80 "homes") -- no caching servers implemented yet... (do you want to host data that's not yours? If so, can you get the copyright license to do so? If so can everyone get that license for free? -- copyright law has no place in modern technology, we must copy everything all the time, and we need the legal restrictions lifted so that we can! Note: ISP routers already to this with indemnity, but our distributed "torrent" like network will face legal threats.)

      There has to be a global or at least national solution to connectivity (how easy will it be to buy & install a node/host), identity (how will someone send you a packet from many hops away?), privacy (how will intermediaries be trusted to pass on your data), integrity (how will we ensure no one can DoS via jammer or firewall that targets you.)

      We've almost got a solution for the node identity problem (routing) via a distributed DNS like system w/ distributed hash tables (.torrent style) and PGP -- though more efficient encryption is needed to provide TOR style anonymity (this is needed to prevent the above fire-walling issue), and the cert database gets huge quickly, so we need to come up with a self organizing system sans database, using only the web of trust...

      The problem with TOR style routing is that you have to know the certs of every node that will be between you and the destination -- If any link goes down, alternates can not take over, the connection must be re-established; Conversely, with a less strict system we can just forward data in the general direction it needs to go, each node can decide the "best" route, and failure of a node results in the next best node being used (next packet -- no resending except from end-points, otherwise the network explodes!).

      Once such a network is operational, much like the end of the BBS prevalent days, there will be bridges between the two networks for a long while, sadly, the ISPs have the upper hand in this respect -- it's already installed (see: Windows vs Linux or OSX), they have better speed, reliability (bugs will take a while to work out), and probably pricing (for node hardware)...

  • Ummm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maugle (1369813) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:00PM (#36202152)
    Is there a problem here? If the bill is truly what the summary (read the article? never!) makes it out to be, it sounds quite reasonable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PPH (736903)
      Right. More public projects should have to comply with requirements like these. Transit systems being an excellent example.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CRCulver (715279)

        Because the oil is going to last forever and gas prices will soon return to what they were in the 1990s, right?

        As much as some might gripe that public transit systems have to be subsidized, at least they are laying the foundations of how people can get around once the middle class is eroded and fuel is too costly.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PPH (736903)

          But once everyone rides transit, who is going to fund its losses? Better to lay the foundation of a transportation system that can pay its own way* now rather than squeeze cash out of private car drivers who will become increasingly scarce as time goes by.

          *We tried that a few years ago in Seattle. But the political machine shit themselves and killed it in favor of a system that allows them to slosh public funds back and forth to the point that nobody really knows what their rail system costs.

          • by CRCulver (715279)
            Although taxing fuel or road use is a popular means of paying for public transportation, it's not the only possibly way to cover losses. The funds could also come from e.g. property taxes.
          • by digitig (1056110)

            But once everyone rides transit, who is going to fund its losses? Better to lay the foundation of a transportation system that can pay its own way* now rather than squeeze cash out of private car drivers who will become increasingly scarce as time goes by.

            Who pays for the road infrastructure? In most places all road transport receives a hidden subsidy in the form of the road infrastructure. The only fair way would be to charge all road users -- cars, lorries, bikers, pedestrians, cyclists, horses... -- per use, according to their demands on the system. It's not going to happen, so there will be subsidies. The argument is over where the subsidies will fall.

          • Roads don't pay their own way, even with fuel taxes. All you're doing is deciding one is a necessity, and one isn't.

          • Re:Ummm (Score:5, Interesting)

            by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @01:25PM (#36202808) Journal

            I'm going to go out on a limb here and state I don't thinkt it's possible to create a passenger system that could pay for itself. Even when railroad networks became the primary means of long distance mass transit, freight actually paid the bills.

            What's more, I'll wager that road systems don't pay for themselves and require considerable taxpayer support.

            • by cdrguru (88047)

              So the logical thing to do is outlaw or re-regulate (out of existance) long-distance trucking. Logical that is, if you want a rail system.

              What is going to go along with a revitalization of rail transit in the US is chopping down vast swaths of homes as well, so you better keep that in mind. Our elected officials made a deal starting around 1940 or so that was "Roads for Rails" - literally the right-of-way was ripped up and a highway built in its place. Or, the rail right-of-way was ripped up and homes pu

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by ShakaUVM (157947)

              You'd be incorrect. Road systems are more than paid for by their various taxes and fees (gas and registration, mainly).

              • Re:Ummm (Score:5, Insightful)

                by coaxial (28297) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @03:26PM (#36203562) Homepage

                Ha! The potholes, the bridge collapses [wikipedia.org], the American Society of Civil Engineers [infrastruc...rtcard.org], the Economist [economist.com], and pretty much anyone that has ever seen a road in the United States, knows that that America's transit infrastructure, it's roads, it's mass transit, everything is shit. Yes, it was once the envy of the world, but that sixty years ago.

                While it is true that roads are paid for with gas an vehicle taxes and fees, the amount of revenue being generated under the current regime is demonstrably insufficient, and has been for decades. After 30 years of repeated tax cuts, with increased demand for basic services, we do have a self-imposed revenue problem.

            • The idea that govt activities have to pay for themselves has to go. The military doesn't pay for itself, but it's a good idea to have a strong defense. In the same way free broadband won't pay for itself but it's a good idea to have a population with unfettered access to information. Therefore govt should print the money to pay for it, because the resulting benefits from the free access to knowledge and the possibilities for ad hoc collaboration among individuals innovating on their own without the need for

            • I'll wager that road systems don't pay for themselves and require considerable taxpayer support.

              You would win [dot.gov] that bet [seattlepi.com].

          • Re:Ummm (Score:4, Insightful)

            by drsquare (530038) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @06:03PM (#36204564)

            But once everyone rides transit, who is going to fund its losses?

            Who funds the losses of the roads? Unless you live in Europe or somewhere with similarly high fuel taxes, your roads are probably subsidised by the government. But that's one form of socialism that Americans have no problem with...

            If everyone used public transport, there's no reason it couldn't be run at cost.

      • Re:Ummm *facepalm* (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:25PM (#36202354)

        Right. More public projects should have to comply with requirements like these. Transit systems being an excellent example.

        Transit systems are a completely different beast. The cost savings for the city are only found when you look outside the system. More productivity when workers can get to work because they aren't in traffic. less road rage. less accidents. less emergency runs for car accidents meaning police have more time for looking for criminals. less road repair. Firemen putting out fires instead of carrying the jaws of life to cut some guy out of his SUV rollover.

        If you don't understand how the system works, go to New York. Or Shanghai, or London. Just try owning a car in one of those cities.

        • by PPH (736903)

          Same things apply to telecommuting. You can also apply the same logic municipalities use for improving infrastructure (attracting business), funding schools (education) and a bunch of other things to installing broadband.

          So we either vote on everything, or let the city council make some judgments on their own.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xeranar (2029624)

        First off this law is about dismantling broadband services provided by the municipalities above cost and were turning a profit but still cheaper than the large telecoms. Under no circumstances were these loss-leaders, so don't go believing the BS the republicans were peddling in this case, they intentionally dismantled the public service to prevent private services from having to compete. This is why by definition public services are definitively better at pricing than private, they need to merely break e

    • Re:Ummm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hedwards (940851) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:07PM (#36202214)

      No, it isn't. Even if it is just what the summary says, you have to adjust for the fact that the person who says it is almost certain to believe that any time the government provides a service at any price that it drives businesses out of business clear across the country.

      I fail to see how communities creating their own broad band in areas where commercial ISPs aren't willing to create the service is going to create an unfair advantage to those communities. The main motivation behind the bill is pandering to a greedy and incompetent telecommunications industry.

      If there were some reasonable hope of commercial ISPs going there, then yes this might be a problem. But I live in Seattle and we're likely to have to go this route because the ISPs refuse to provide us with decent affordable service. I'm fairly lucky where I live to only have to pay $50 a month and have the privilege of getting 5mbps for that, whereas in other parts of the country it's trivial to get 40mbps for $55 a month.

      I think that if we were going to do it, these sorts of regulations would make some sense, but even there if the community is making a broad band network that works, I fail to see why we need commercial ISPs at all.

    • Re:Ummm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:18PM (#36202298) Homepage Journal
      Based on TFS, though, the killer is the requirement that the system be run as a separate entity, unsubsidized. If a municipality wanted to do this, it would make sense for the municipal network to fall under the city's IT department. It looks like that's not possible. Furthermore, why should the state care? If a city wants to do this, surely the locals can figure out whether it's worth the taxes or not.

      I'm a big fan of private business, but this is akin to the laws that prevent the government from competing with private business for anything - so instead of having electronic tax filing provided for free at the IRS site, we have to pay a private entity to do the filing for us. The IRS still has to have a back end paid for with tax money.
      • Re:Ummm (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:24PM (#36202338)

        The problem is that it's anticompetitive to run the service using tax dollars. If Business A (run by the city) is tax subsidized, then nobody will choose Business B's service. If they did, they would have to pay Business B more for the same service even though they're already essentially paying Business A through their taxes. This pretty much ensures that Business B will never expand service to that area, even if it would have been profitable otherwise.

        If you instead do what this bill appears to propose, then the city government can ensure that their service goes to places that the private companies won't go right now, but it still leaves the door open for the private companies to go there later once the population grows enough to make it worthwhile.

        • The money flow is the same. Taxes come from the people just like cash. The difference being a democratically selected municipality being funded instead of near-criminal deceptive telecoms with armies of lawyers (read: No Liability).

          • So city governments never wind up corrupt and still get repeatedly re-elected? How long have you lived on Planet Earth, exactly?

            And the money flow isn't the same. The problem is that if you support the city service with tax dollars, then even the people who opt out of the service end up paying for it anyway, even if they are also paying some other provider for similar service at a non-subsidized price.

        • Re:Ummm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:56PM (#36202550)

          This isn't a competitive industry. I'm sorry, but I'm not sure where you got the idea that internet service was competitive. Somebody owns the wires going to your house, and they get to charge whatever they like for that knowing that there are at most one or two other options.

          Around here the mayor wanted to do something like this 6 years ago and was told by Qwest that they'd be doing something about the problem in the near future. Well, it's 6 years later, the infrastructure still sucks and Qwest hasn't done jack shit about it. They just keep taking people's money because we don't have other options. Comcast managing to be even worse than Qwest.

          When you take into consideration the fact that these towns weren't profitable to provide service in the first place, I'm really curious as to what the justification for pretending that treating broadband as a utility is so bad.

        • Everyone's talking theoretical, when there is practical precedent: waste collection. In Finland, waste collection was privatized, but in most municipalities, with a catch: the market leader is a municipal corporation. In itself there's nothing wrong with this, except when municipalities interpret this so that the municipal corporation has the right to tell where to place different trashcans, and to force each household to pay their rate. In fact, there is a case where a municipality forced a private corpora
          • by zyzko (6739) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .neniakisa.irak.> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @02:19PM (#36203120)

            Nice that you bring Finland in discussion - but in totally wrong way. The waste collection went wrong and there was abuse of the system, but those examples you cite are not problems with broadband when done right. And in Finland municipal broadband has been done right in many communities were there was no interest from commercial entities to build the infrastructure (and old phone companies went even so far that they teared town the old phone cables and installed GSM voicemail systems instead so that offering DSL wasn't even possible if someone would have wanted to take the risk; we have "must lease" clause in the law so that the last mile must be leased to competitor for "fair compensation" is the competitor wants to start operating DSL POP at the area). Communities (not necessarily even owned or operated by tows) build the infrastructure and offer ISPs to come to POPs with same terms for everyone and the end-user can choose which ISP to buy the actual service from. This solves the problem that ISPs don't have interes in areas where they might have just few customers at one POP and they still had to invest in everything.

            Sweden went even further and built masses of fiber network for operators to lease - everyone with same terms. And last time I checked they were doing very well regarding broadband even in rural areas.

            The idea is not to regulate anything but instead offer chance for businesses to enter the market (all with same terms) where they are not "naturally" interested because of the initial investment and risk of losing that investment (or some other bullshit/business reason).

        • by Grygus (1143095)

          So... in other words, the locals do all the hard work and set up the infrastructure and establish a customer base, then the businesses can come in and operate at low margins (since they can take the loss) and don't have the cost of loans to set all that up? That doesn't sound fair to me. Seems to me that businesses should be willing to compete with a local government based on the business' (presumed) superior levels of service and resources. If the argument is that a megacorporation isn't a better ISP th

        • by digitig (1056110)

          If you instead do what this bill appears to propose, then the city government can ensure that their service goes to places that the private companies won't go right now, but it still leaves the door open for the private companies to go there later once the population grows enough to make it worthwhile.

          Except the only credible reason that private companies won't go there is that it's not commercially viable, so the city government can't do what this bill proposes.

        • If the whole point of the competition is to provide affordable services/products, but the competitions can't do those, what's the point of being pro-competition?

          If the community can provide it, let them. The ISPs can still compete with speed, quality and added services if they want to. And being commercial, they're sure to be able to beat the social(ist) services hands down, without this kind of government regulation...
        • The problem is accountability. In theory, governments and corporations are both accountable to their customers. If you don't like the service provided by the government, you can vote for someone else. If you don't like the service provided by a corporation, you can patronise a different one.

          In practice, when it comes to Internet access the situation is different. It isn't likely to be a significant factor in determining which councillor you vote for, so governments are largely unaccountable. It's a na

        • Who cares if Qwest or Comcast can't make enough profit?

          I'm wondering why more coops aren't showing up. They're very common in rural areas for providing water or power.
        • by IICV (652597)

          This pretty much ensures that Business B will never expand service to that area, even if it would have been profitable otherwise.

          And you know what? I'm totally okay with that. And if the people in the community are okay with that (as they apparently are, having voted for this), then why is the state enshrining the right of the telecom companies to profit in law? Why must it be mandated that some business B be able to make a profit?

          • by tftp (111690)

            Why must it be mandated that some business B be able to make a profit?

            To ensure availability of the service. If the municipality at some point decides to reduce the quality of the service or to cancel it outright (say, because of lack of tax money) then there will be nothing in place. It will take private businesses a long time to come in and offer their products. However if private companies are already in the market then there will be no downtime.

            And of course there is that little problem with social

        • by erroneus (253617)

          It's not anticompetitive if "the competition" doesn't want to play there. This seems to be all about these communities who seek broadband but aren't big or interesting enough for a broadband provider to install infrastructure. We have seen this scenario play out in different ways on Slashdot discussions before. Some succeeded and some failed. IIRC, one such scenario resulting in an uninterested ISP installing infrastructure to prevent the community broadband from getting started.

        • by erroneus (253617)

          ...whoops, didn't finish...

          And what's "wrong" with tax subsidized business? We see that all the time with BIG business. We see tax incentives given to business and subsidies all the time at every level. So now after decades of this practice someone is going to stand up and claim 'it's wrong!" somehow? N.C. and my company are currently in a discussion about exactly such "incentives" for us to relocate there. I guess that governor will think this is a good use of tax dollars though.

        • by celle (906675)

          "If you instead do what this bill appears to propose, then the city government can ensure that their service goes to places that the private companies won't go right now, but it still leaves the door open for the private companies to go there later once the population grows enough to make it worthwhile."

          So in other words it's a subsidy for future private expansion. Considering how much these companies ripped off the public on expansion in the nineties, fuck'em.

        • by arose (644256)

          The problem is that it's anticompetitive to run the service using tax dollars.

          Granting monopolies to convince providers to come into town on the other hand is the free market at work...

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Why isn't municipal wiress (trust me, we're talking only wireless here) popping up all over?

        In Tempe, AZ they put up a municipal wireless and I believe it is still in operation. However, the use is almost exclusively ASU students. I believe the system is free to use and is run by the city as a service for the college students in the ASU area.

        In Chandler, AZ a company put together a similar system that was going to be charged for. They never got that far. The use of the system was minimal and subscribers

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kongming (448396)
      The article does not mention what I consider the most burdensome aspect of the bill. In addition to requiring the approval of the local community, any municipality hoping to set up service requires the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission: (3) Upon the request of a communications service provider, the Commission shall accept written and oral comments from competitive private communications service providers in connection with any hearing or other review of the application. (4) In considering t
    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      The end effect may be that the citizens of a small community won't be able to get broadband because there is no company that want's to provide it and the municipalities are banned from doing it.

      • by tftp (111690)

        The end effect may be that the citizens of a small community won't be able to get broadband because there is no company that want's to provide it and the municipalities are banned from doing it.

        The citizens of a small community can easily set up a non-profit entity and go ahead with the project. The key here is that non-profit (or for-profit) entity will be working on the same terms as anyone else, on a level playing field; it will be competing on prices and quality of the service, not on the caliber of

    • by jra (5600)

      That was my reaction too. Lessig overreact on this one?

  • It sure would be terrible if those huge corporations had to compete with under served communities and their pesky unfair advantages!

    • Re:Oh No!!! (Score:4, Funny)

      by hedwards (940851) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:08PM (#36202226)

      Damn straight, we all know that corporations are good and that gubmint is evil and providing quality services will ultimately lead to us all being slaves to the all power President.

      • by Chelloveck (14643)
        It's either that or you're a dirty anti-American socialist. There's no middle ground; you're either with us or against us. Now, you ain't no good-fer-nothin' socialist, are you boy?
  • Not getting why a community can't build their own broadband, and at the same time allow private companies to compete on the same fiber (or add their own fiber).

    'course, this isn't the first time that the cablecos/ISPs have banded together to push politicians to enforce mono/duopoly. See also UTOPIA [utopianet.org]. Comcast and Qwest raped quite a few cities (and bought more than a few politicians) to keep that network restricted, lest they have to compete on a level playing field...

    • Re:So, err, WTF? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by QuantumRiff (120817) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:41PM (#36202456)

      My company gets our internet to our servers via a small town utility... it is excellent service. I have a 15Mb/s fiber directly into the server room. At the same time, Verizon gives a few bundled T1's and tells us we should be grateful. We want more speed from them, and they tell us we would have to pay thousands and thousands to trench some fiber out to us. (we told them we would consider it, if we got to share revenue from ANYONE else that connected to that fiber that we would have paid for in our large business park, and they stopped talking to us).

      Meanwhile, both verizon and charter are fighting hard to stop the utility from expanding service. They went into a neighbourhood, and started offering a few megabits for something like $25/month, which was enough for the utility to make a profit (they don't have to pay for lobbying, or for TV stations, etc). 75% of the residents in that neighbourhood switched within 2 months! Many paid the cancellation fees to get out of contracts, because the service was cheap, worked well, and actually gave the advertised speed.

    • Did you even read the summary? It does not prevent municipalities from creating community broadband. It requires them to get public input before getting involved and to set up the finances to reduce the chances of it becoming a money sink.
  • Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:06PM (#36202200)

    If a town wants to start a new bus line, or double the number of stops, or open a new school, or put water fountains on Main Street, they just hold a vote at a city council meeting.

    If a town wants to hang some antennas to offer a public amenity on Main Street, probably costing about as much as the water fountains, they gotta go through the equivalent of a consent decree. This sounds like broadband provider protectionism to me. That a municipal utility can provide better service than a private utility is an open question and a lot of cities do very well with publicly-owned electric grids and traction transit; adding hoops to jump through for broadband wifi in particular is just a way of protecting Comcast's fiefdom.

  • I am so sick of seeing this happen. The municipal wifi project in my town was canceled by time warner. The end result was that 3 years later there is still no public wifi downtown, half of the surrounding neighborhoods still dont have coverage for anything but dial up and the people living here have exactly 1 choice for internet. My cable/internet bill is $178 a month for basic cable and 5/1 internet service.

    • I call shenanigans on $178 for BASIC cable and internet. I bet any money you have a cable box that is probably a DVR as well as supports HD channels. None of that is basic cable. Your 5/1 service cant be more then $50/month in the US
      • by stdarg (456557)

        Basic cable probably refers to the selection of channels not the equipment. Today in a lot of areas you HAVE to get digital cable and a box, it's the lowest option the cable company provides.

        • To me 'basic' cable is hooking the wire to the tuner on the back of the TV. Anything above that is not 'basic' cable. The era of basic cable having 70-80 channels died around 2003-2005.
  • Allegory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dracos (107777) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:16PM (#36202278)

    Someone should write an Onion [theonion.com] article about states banning/hampering municipal water systems because Coke and Pepsi demand it.

    • by chad_r (79875)

      Someone should write an Onion [theonion.com] article about states banning/hampering municipal water systems because Coke and Pepsi demand it.

      You're close. The product was Brawndo ("It's got what plants crave!"), and it was in a documentary called Idiocracy [imdb.com].

  • ...hold public hearings, financially separate their operations from the rest of government operations, and bar from them offering below cost services. They also couldn't borrow money for the project without voter approval in a referendum.

    So, in face, it's not even close to banning community broadband. It just requires real voter approval and financial responsibility.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @01:19PM (#36202748)

      No, it's not a ban, in the same way that I'm not banned from parking in handicap spaces, it's just really unaffordable to pay all those tickets and those pesky impound fees.

      What the bill does is make it unaffordable for municipalities to set up their own broadband. Keep in mind that these are small municipalities where the normal ISPs refuse to provide service.

  • Wouldn't a more free-market solution be for the municipality to take the money that they would have used to provide broadband and offer it as a subsidy for anyone who is willing to provide broadband (with a set list of criteria and possibly a limited term for the subsidy)? This would encourage private companies (who we have seen time and again are more efficient at almost every type of business than government is) to provide the service. If the municipality wanted to, they could even form an independent non

  • Where in the constitution does it say business has a right to profit from societies needs?
  • Public Works? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:39PM (#36202442) Journal
    Can we jsut get community wide IT infrastructure labeled as public works please? During the New Deal era, were toll road operators suing to prevent the national highway system? The idea that we should worry about private enterprise profits at the cost of public works is retarded.
  • ...say the opposite of what is happening....

    The municipaities would have no unfair advantage at all, but here she is pretending that the unfair advantage she gives to private businesses is making things fair.

    Someone please start the shooting where it matters.

  • Yeaaaa, because (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:44PM (#36202478) Homepage Journal
    any group of people who band together and form a 'company' have the right to privately fuck all other people as they will. and, if they are not even wanting to come to your locale and screw you over privately - you shouldnt do anything - because their right to fuck you whenever they want, however they want should be preserved over what YOU want. crooked ? that's capitalism. until a capital owner decides to fuck you over, you people should just shut up and wait.
  • by gman003 (1693318) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @12:46PM (#36202484)
    Public hearings - local governments hold these for everything. Proposal to change the date for holding the public hearing on changing the amount of dues for sewage fees? Yeah, let's hold a hearing on that, too.

    Financially separate operations - I'd honestly be angry if they weren't separate.

    No below-cost service - Again, reasonable. Because doing so would either mean other tax money is being used, or that the government is borrowing to support it. Neither is good.

    No borrowing without a referendum - A bit restrictive, but not too much so. Besides, since when has democracy been a bad thing?

    I can easily imagine private companies being able to compete with this without absolutely dominating. Community broadband will likely be relatively slow - there's no incentive to go beyond what most people will use. A small business could probably work by providing higher-speed access at higher cost - those who want more speed will pay for it, but those who just need "good-enough" internet will be fine on community broadband.

    Now, the one thing I am worried about is potential censorship. Certain highly-conservative communities might try to ban, say, pornography. Hyper-liberal communities might try to limit other things (a gaming curfew, similar to the recent Korean law, might be one of them). As far as I'm concerned, both are completely unacceptable. And also very likely to be tried - American politics tends to be very polarizing, even in homogeneous-party communities. I imagine most courts will throw the laws out, but you never know.
    • by stdarg (456557) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @01:08PM (#36202644)

      Financially separate operations - I'd honestly be angry if they weren't separate.

      So should the internet division have its own revenue collection department and its own call center rather than adding a line item to the existing tax bill? That's adding inefficiency... why?

      No below-cost service - Again, reasonable. Because doing so would either mean other tax money is being used, or that the government is borrowing to support it. Neither is good.

      But that doesn't make sense. Aren't telecoms today required to provide below-cost service in e.g. rural areas? Isn't there some government funding (tax money) to help make that happen?

      No borrowing without a referendum - A bit restrictive, but not too much so. Besides, since when has democracy been a bad thing?

      The democratic part is where the community says "Hey let's have community internet."

      The undemocratic part is where outside companies that don't even have a vote in the community say "Nope you have to go through this checklist of crap first."

      We're talking about local municipal broadband, not state or federal. This isn't a central government building a service for people who are only loosely connected to them. It's small towns where everybody knows the mayor and the city council. They go to barbecues together.

      Now, the one thing I am worried about is potential censorship. Certain highly-conservative communities might try to ban, say, pornography. Hyper-liberal communities might try to limit other things (a gaming curfew, similar to the recent Korean law, might be one of them). As far as I'm concerned, both are completely unacceptable.

      I agree, but they do a pretty good job with stuff like electricity and water. I've never heard of an electric utility say "Sorry we won't provide power to a strip club" or "If you play bad games on your computer we'll cut your power because we don't like that."

      • by tftp (111690)

        So should the internet division have its own revenue collection department and its own call center rather than adding a line item to the existing tax bill? That's adding inefficiency... why?

        That's why they explicitly say FINANCIALLY separate, not just separate. This means that accounting records for this service should be maintained separately from the town's books. This allows to see all the revenue and expenses. The extra cost to the city is just a couple of dollars for the books themselves, or zero if

  • We have reached a point where Internet service should be considered a utility, much like electricity, gas, water, sewer, etc.

    Municipalities are allowed to provide these other services to their citizens; why not Internet service? Doesn't make sense to me.

  • Couldn't the municipalities just build out the fiber and switches and then lease it to a separate entity to provide the "management and service"?
  • There's a blog with more information: http://savencbb.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

    It may also be interesting for people to read about the project that caused so much angst among ISPs: http://www.greenlightnc.com/ [greenlightnc.com]

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @01:18PM (#36202734)
    Do you seriously want to get your internet service from the government? If the local government provides the broadband, I guarantee no telco is going to bring in their own service and compete with something not under the same market controls they are. So by allowing this you are basically ensuring that your only choice is government supplied internet. If you're ok with that, then fine... I certainly agree that ISPs are pretty much shit nowadays... but replacing them with the government? I just dunno.
    • Actually, if you are talking *local* government, they would probably be *more* answerable to their customers than the huge telecom conglomerates.

      I certainly wouldn't want to get my Internet service from my state gov't or -- God forbid -- the Feds, but if you're talking about a technically savvy municipality, why *shouldn't* they be allowed to do this? Especially if they are under-served by the existing providers? IMO by prohibiting this sort of thing, you are potentially trampling on the rights of individua

      • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Informative)

        by tftp (111690) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @03:00PM (#36203380) Homepage

        Actually, if you are talking *local* government, they would probably be *more* answerable to their customers than the huge telecom conglomerates.

        My experience shows that the local government is not answerable to anyone. Ever tried to get a building permit? They tell you to jump and you only can ask how high. This is because if you displease them and they become picky, your only recourse is ... no, not even the court. You have no recourse. It is not against the law for a clerk to get back at you by requiring documents that are issued on third Friday of a century. You can get mired in health department's approvals, in geology approvals, in grading approvals ... or the clerk can just look at your plan and say "Well, I could have asked for @foo but I see that you are doing everything right, so here is your stamp and you may be on your way to start building."

        If that happens with a private company (and it does, occasionally, when they aren't cooperating) you simply walk away, into another company in the same market, just across the street, and forget that the first company even exists.

        The problem with the government is that there is only one government that is in charge of your property, and within that government there are just a few specific employees (you know them by name) that can make or break your project, and they are legally entitled to go either way, just as they please (officially it is "based on my expert knowledge, skills, training, etc.") They better be your friends, or else your activities will be seriously curtailed. I know more than one sad story about all that. Messing with a police officer is safer than messing with a government clerk - clerk's duties are not clearly described in laws, so bureaucrats have a lot of leeway.

  • by Issarlk (1429361) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @02:36PM (#36203238)
    Community broadband? More like COMMUNISM broadband. Thank God America still have some people like Bev Perdue to protect it from the reds.

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