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The Internet Government United States

Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet 200

Jason Koebler writes Two cities—Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina—have officially asked the federal government to help them bypass state laws banning them from expanding their community owned, gigabit fiber internet connections. In states throughout the country, major cable and telecom companies have battled attempts to create community broadband networks, which they claim put them at a competitive disadvantage. The FCC will decide if its able to circumvent state laws that have been put in place restricting the practice.
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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

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  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @08:34AM (#47530065) Homepage

    I'd love comcast to have the level of service the Indiana DMV provides.

    I can do 95% of what I need without going into the office. If I do go in I can schedule a slot and simply walk in, do my business and walk out. I recently bought a new vehicle and was shocked at how fast and pleasant the experience was.

    Comcast on the other hand quotes you a 8 hour time frame the installer will arrive, sends a contractor who may or may not be competent enough to even pull cable, and then blames you if anything goes wrong.

  • Go Greenlight (Score:5, Informative)

    by poeman ( 60885 ) <> on Friday July 25, 2014 @08:49AM (#47530163) Homepage

    As a Wilson Resident, I can say confidently...

    The local bank (BB&T) couldn't get speeds fast enough to do business.
    The city ran fiber and put in great speeds - residential basic is 10/10 and business is even better.

    Time Warner - the local incumbent cable cried bloody murder while they offered nothing close.

    Any problems? call a local number and talk to someone local and problem gets solved.

  • by visualight ( 468005 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @08:50AM (#47530171) Homepage

    Wow you really added to the discussion there.

    Last week, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the cable and telecommunications industry, introduced an amendment to a key appropriations bill that would prevent the FCC from preempting such state laws.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by snake pliskin ( 1319891 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @08:54AM (#47530215)
    The Chattanooga fiber network (electric power board provided - owned by the local city government) competes with comcast and at&t for internet, tv and telephone service. When you have a problem you call a local number and speak to a local person.... not someone two states away or a different country in some cases. And yes, the fiber here is legit. You get the speeds you pay for.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @09:29AM (#47530505) Journal

    I live in Florida. Yesterday I had to call the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. All I had to do was wait for the option to press '1' for spanish to expire and I was connected immediately to a real person who answered my slightly complicated question easily, clearly and quickly.

    I also own a business (and have owned two) in Florida, and every time I've had to deal with the Florida Department of Revenue (sometimes I got busy and forgot to pay my sales taxes) they have been friendly and helpful.

    I wish, wish Cox Cable had the kind of friendly and expedient service Florida's government entities do.

  • Re:Go Greenlight (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @09:58AM (#47530787)
    Because the Democrats had already managed to royally fuck things up before the Republicans showed up. Hell, the NC Democrats started the process of ruining NC broadband in the first place. [] Granted, there's an equal number of "R" sponsors listed...but look at who wrote it up in the first place.

    Also of interest to readers of this post: a blog the City of Wilson started [] when they got fed up and took things into their own hands.
  • Re:Vote (Score:5, Informative)

    by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:05AM (#47530877)
    I cant, my state says I must believe in the Lord to hold public office...
  • Re:Vote (Score:4, Informative)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:13AM (#47530935)

    Vote out the scumbags at the state capitol that passed such a law

    This is a very complex issue and has very little to do with the topics you're probably concerned with.

    I'll burn up even more Karma educating the ill-informed.

    Back when Telephones were a new thing, the government wanted to push their expansion to everyone in the country. It was seen in the same light that we see the internet today. A huge economic boost that would be the most beneficial in rural areas.

    First the government just mandated "If you serve here you have to serve rural areas!!!" That went over like a lead balloon. Businesses just refused to install anything. The problem is that one company would come in and do what the government wanted, install service in the profitable city centers, then raise prices for those people to offset the costs of servicing rural customers who are extremely unprofitable to serve. But, rural customers having telephone service is, in the long run, more profitable for society as a whole. But then a competitor would come in and install only for the profitable business centers and drag their feet on installing the rural customers. Able to offer the business parks a cheaper rate, they'd drive the first company out.

    So an agreement was struck. The local municipality would sell the telephone company a "franchise" or whatever the term in your local area is. Often this is called a "Monopoly" by the ill informed, but it's anything but that. This agreement comes with heavy burdens for the telephone company. They agree to provide service to everyone, at the same price. (differences exist for commercial and residential) They can not charge you more based on where you live. They also agree to provide service for a period of time, and they cannot abandon this obligation without approval from the municipality. In return, they retain exclusive rights to provide twisted pair copper service in that area.

    They do have competitors... LOTS of competitors. Your local cable company, other phone companies, wifi providers, and on and on. It may seem as if there is a monopoly because where you live there is only one option.

    Here's the key point to all of this: If you only have one option for a phone company that's because it's unprofitable to serve the area you live in. The only reason you have a phone company option at all, is because they are forced by that franchise agreement to serve you. If the Monopoly you're complaining about did not exist, you would have no phone service at all. None. There are hundreds of phone companies in this country, if it were profitable to provide you service, you'd have a lot of options. Go to any telephone company website, find their get a quote section and put in an address for the local buisness park around you. You'll have dozens of options for service. Alternatively, the easiest way to see where its profitable to provide service is to simply look at your local cable companies footprint. Cable companies are not under the franchise obligations. They only serve areas that are profitable. That footprint is very tightly held within the profitable part of town. Outside that the phone company is losing money.

    Now, recently, some municipalities have tried to start their own fiber services. The fact that they are leaving out in these projects is where they are targeted. I've seen dozens of them (I work for a telco) and in every single case the local town is trying to instal Fiber to a local business park to attract new business. A noble idea, but the fact of the matter is, that business park in almost every case is the only profitable part of the entire town. (most towns that try this are relatively small) The park is paying for everyone elses phone service! If they suddenly had virtually free fiber service, the town suddenly becomes a huge expense to the telco. They'll refuse to sign the next franchise agreement and the town will be stuck with maintaining the infrastructure themselves.

    If you support this sort of thing you have to realize that what you're supporting is lower prices for businesses, poorer service for everyone else and probably a lot of rural service loosing standard pots service and internet all together.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:22PM (#47532151)

    I believe that contravenes the US Constitution's ban on religious tests to hold office (Article VI, paragraph 3).

    Which matters not one bit [] in actual practice. There are 7 states (Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas) where the state constitution effectively prohibits atheists from holding public office. Arkansas furthermore prohibits atheists from serving as a witness in court. While this technically hasn't been enforced in a long time, the law hasn't been changed either.

    Plus good luck getting elected if you are honest about being an atheist. It's basically considered political suicide in most of the country.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas