Wednesday, March 30, 2011
-- Image Source: IndyWeek
Our state is not looking so good this week.
A bill called H129 ("the Level Playing Field/Local Gov't Competition" act) passed the N.C. House of Representatives Monday by a count of 81-37. The bill's sponsor, Marilyn Avila, a Republican from Wake County told a Raleigh TV station that the bill protect businesses from what she called "predatory" local governments that want to build their own ISPs.
This bill will make it really hard to provide competition to the big cable company and make it really hard for customers to have choice and make it really easy for the big cable company to set prices where they want.
Put simply, the bill says that the local government-owned cable company is unfairly competing against the big guys. Here's the catch. The local guy often offers better service at a cheaper price.
What's wrong with a little competition? That's good for consumers.
Orange County democrat Bill Faison told a Raleigh TV station that "this bill will make it practically impossible for cities to provide a fundamental service. Where's the bill to govern Time Warner? Let's be clear about whose bill this is. This is Time Warner's bill. You need to know who you're doing this for."
Ding. Ding. Ding.
Some of these smaller cable broadband networks run by locals offer faster speeds than the big boys for cheaper prices. And at a time when some behemoths like AT&T DSL are placing broadband data caps on some customers, the locals are lowering prices and telling your to surf and download to your heart's content.
In Chattanooga, Tenn., the city-owned EPB Fiber Optics will deliver uber-fast 30 Mbps internet, plus 194 channels of standard and HD plus video on demand services for $105 per month. Want to add phone? That'll be $120. And if you want, you can get delirious internet speeds, up to 1,000 Mbps.
Sound good to anyone out there?
In Wilson, NC, the Greenlight Community Network offers upload and download speeds of 100 Mpbs for $149 (most cable companies that even offer 100 down, only give you 5 up). In fact, all of Greenlight's options offer the same speeds up and down, meaning when you're sending email attachments or big picture or movie files, they move faster.
Greenlight offers tons of bundle packages running from $99 to $169 for "the ultimate" bundle of phone, TV with movie channels and internet. Locally in Charlotte, Time Warner cable offers 100 Mbps internet for $99 per month and has a "Signature Home Bundle" of its premier phone, internet and TV service for $199 for the first 12 months. The price increases after that and it does not include movie channels.
TWC has cheaper options, but going through Greenlight and TWC's offerings, I think given the choice here, which I don't have, I'd get Greenlight.
And as you wonder about this bill passing through our state government, also consider a study by GigaOM recently that showed our state holding seven of 10 places among the 10 most expensive broadband cities in the United States.
H129 has a lot of specifics -- requiring public hearings for cities that want to build their own networks and opportunities for private companies to offer proposals -- and has been so controversial that Raleigh, the state capitol, has come out against it.
Now, the state senate will decide whether to pass H129 and move the bill to the governor's desk. It's getting close to law.
Let's hope someone stops it before it gets there.
Posted by Langston Wertz Jr. at 1:11 PM