Bringing us the news that “the North Carolina legislature just sent a bill to study committee (a.k.a shelved it at least until next year) that would have crippled municipal broadband projects in the state,” AlterNet‘s Tana Ganeva (5/6/09) tells “why that’s a really, really good (albeit temporary) thing”:
According to a recent study, America ranks 15th in the world in broadband access. This is partly because we have a very large population spread over a very large amount of space. But it is also because private companies don’t care about poor people and refuse to build broadband infrastructure in rural areas and many low-income city neighborhoods.
This is where municipal broadband plans come in. Local governments set up networks providing fast Internet access to underserved or totally ignored areas, for free or at significantly lower prices than would private providers.
Which sounds great–to everyone except giant telecommunications companies “distressed by the prospect of actual competition in an otherwise monopolized industry.” Their general response “is to lobby for deeply unpopular legislation that would effectively kill local government broadband projects”–as has been their strategy for quite some time; see the FAIR magazine Extra!: “Strings Attached: Telecom Industry’s Spin Machine Casts Net Over Community Broadband” (9-10/05) by Michelle Chen.