by Wayne King
In early May, Republican majorities in the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives passed House Bill 129, legislation to level the playing field between publicly- and privately-owned communications networks. HB 129 will have two long-lasting positive effects on our state: it will make it a more attractive place for businesses to move and invest, resulting in new jobs and higher economic growth, and it will force local governments to prioritize funding for public networks, which will eventually save taxpayers millions of dollars.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Late last week, House Bill 129 became law. The legislation was designed to ensure that publicly and privately-owned communications networks abide by the same rules.
Until now, publicly-owned networks enjoyed several advantages over private networks, including certain tax and regulatory exemptions. While this legislation preserves those advantages for several already existing public networks, it also requires that new networks built
with taxpayer dollars follow the same regulations, and pay similar taxes, that public networks do.
by BJ Murphy, Mayor
City of Kinston, N.C.
Municipalities across our state continue to face tough budget decisions while feeling the effects of a nationwide recession. As a mayor in eastern NC, we certainly face many budgetary issues because of this economy.
Many cities and towns throughout the years have seen voids in service or infrastructure, not easily duplicated by the private sector. Those areas of service tend to be water, sewer, and sometimes electricity. Many of our neighboring municipalities have gotten into the business of providing broadband service to the community, regardless whether the community is unserved, underserved, or well connected to broadband services.
by Ed McMahan
Can we call North Carolina’s experiment with so-called “municipal broadband” a failure yet? And is it too early to say, “I told you so?”
Starting in 2007, a handful of North Carolina municipalities decided that the time was right to go into direct competition with private providers and offer their citizens competitive cable services, including internet, voice and cable television. First came Greenlight in Wilson, then came MI-Connection, owned by the cities of Mooresville and Davidson. Most recently, Salisbury has gotten in on the act. They decided they could do a better job at providing communications services to the public and-of course-make a lot of money doing it.
SHALLOTTE, N.C. — Allen Russ, CEO/General Manager of ATMC, recently announced that ATMC has been awarded a $16 million grant/loan to provide an all fiber network to deliver affordable, reliable high-speed internet and video services to approximately 4000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses in southern Columbus County. “Congressman Mike McIntyre called to officially notify me,” said Mr. Russ. He added, “This is great news for not only ATMC, but for the people of southern Columbus County.”