At a recent WRAL TechWire event, former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chief of staff Blair Levin urged North Carolina communities to seek a repeal of a state law that restricts local telecommunications authority, reports WRAL TechWire.
“When the new General Assembly returns to Raleigh, tell the assembly to tear down the law that prevents faster, cheaper broadband,” Levin said in a keynote address at the WRAL TechWire Executive Exchange in Wilson, N.C. Wilson's municipal Greenlight network is among the first in the nation to offer high-quality Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Internet access.
Currently, North Carolina law HB 129 prevents Wilson from expanding its Internet access service area beyond Wilson County and discourages other communities from investing in similar infrastructure. HB 129 was the subject of a legal battle when the city of Wilson (pop. 50,000) wanted to provide Internet access to neighboring Pinetops (pop. 1,400) and other communities beyond the limitations of the state law. They challenged the law, as did Chattanooga, which faced slightly different restrictions in Tennessee.
In February of 2015, the FCC ordered that Wilson could serve communities beyond the county borders, but both states appealed, challenging the agency's authority. The federal appeals court reversed that ruling in August 2016.
Under the provisions of the North Carolina law, Wilson could lose it's exemption to offer service at all, but by temporarily providing free telephone and Internet access to Pinetops, they protect their exemption. Two state legislators have vowed to take action and try to get the state law changed during the next legislative session.
"In accordance with Session Law 2015-241, I am proud to offer this plan as the state’s guiding document on the policies and actions necessary to increase North Carolinians’ access to affordable high-speed internet. A collaborative effort, the plan uses feedback gathered from more than a dozen stakeholder listening sessions, discussions with nearly 80 subject matter experts, and a survey of 3500 local leaders." - Keith Werner, State Chief Information Officer
Read the plan at the link below
CONNECTING NORTH CAROLINA
State Broadband Plan
In his CIO Consumer Tech Radar posting, Why AT&T's Attempt To Kill Municipal Broadband In Tenn. Matters To All Americans, columnist Bill Snyder explains how an AT&T win, in the municipal broadband fight in Tennessee, will impact communities across the U.S. Read Article at cio.com
Tech Times is reporting that Google is partnering with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to supply free fiber service to select communities. Read the full article at techtimes.com
Mulitchannel News has posted an article on the formation of the new Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus. Per the article, "This caucus will bring greater attention to the need for high-speed broadband in rural America, and help to encourage and spur innovative solutions to address this growing consumer demand.” Read the full article at multichannel.com
Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority has approved the $50 mil. sale of their Broadband Network, Optinet, to Sunset Digital Communications. Read about the sale on wjhl.com
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