Local Politics

Broadband bill back up for state House vote

Posted June 28, 2010

— North Carolina legislators are scheduled to decide whether to make it harder for municipalities to start broadband Internet services that compete with cable and telephone companies.

Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, recently introduced legislation that would force municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money to build a competing broadband network. That bill stalled in the state House.

“If they want to vote it down, go ahead, but give it a fair hearing,” Hoyle said Monday.

Hoyle's bill would place a one-year moratorium on municipalities creating their own cable and Internet networks.

Three years ago, Wilson borrowed more than $28 million to build a fiber-optic network to provide local residents with phone, Internet and cable services. Hoyle argues that municipalities, such as Wilson, shouldn't be competing with businesses.

“Do we, as government, want to get in competition with private enterprise and my answer to that is no, and I am passionate about that,” Hoyle said.

Hoyle has since attached his broadband bill to another bill he said is likely to get passed.

“I want my bill passed. They want their bill passed. So, if they want theirs, they're going to have to take up mine,” Hoyle said.

Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, is among the lawmakers sponsoring the bill deemed likely to pass. It seeks $5 million in federal stimulus to help provide high-speed Internet access in parts of the state.

Faison said he doesn't support Hoyle's bill because it would cut down on competition and keep broadband rates up. But because the bills are attached, a vote for one means a vote for the other.

“I thought it was an interesting political maneuver. I did not think it was one that would be successful,” Faison said of Hoyle's effort to combine the bills.

A House committee recently discussed ways to reintroduce the bill seeking the federal stimulus money without Hoyle's broadband bill attached. 

The bill as it stands could go to a vote on the House floor as early as Tuesday. It then would go back to the Senate.

Similar broadband bills have been debated in the General Assembly for several years.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • commonsense4 Jun 30, 2010

    "So your solution is for government to get into the business and compete with private industry? Government has never been able to be more efficient or inexpensive than private industry. With government subsidy, they can undercut private business making them unable to compete. That would lead to LESS competition and LESS choices - not more. Government should deal with large infrastructure and regulation of private industry - it should not be in direct competition with the industries it regulates."

    They have a bunch of happy customers in Wilson while Time Warner has millions of unhappy customers that overpay for subpar service with no improvements to come anytime soon. And they lobbying power they have just corrupts everyone all the way to the FCC. At least local gov't can do something about it. They can't do worse than Time Warner.

  • cchandler Jun 29, 2010

    the Internet is becoming (or has become) a critical infrastructure. Renewing your license, tags, paying bills, getting hours and information about libraries, parks, city and state events, traffic information, etc. have moved (for the most part) to providing the information online. In fact, it's becoming very difficult to function in society with some sort of internet access. That's why the FCC, in 2000, (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipal_broadband) recommended municipal broadband be provided with private companies either running the networks or providing value-added broadband (faster, more services, etc.)

  • oyid Jun 29, 2010

    It's not about competition between businesses. It's about a municipality competing with business. How can any business compete with a government entity that gets it's funds through taxes? I don't like the idea of government directly competing with private enterprise. I'm all for private business competition. - saturn5

    So what do you say when the cable provider refuses to enter certain markets because it has a "shallow subscriber base"? Is there not a role for Government to enter the market and provide the service to the few residents? Plus consider that the cable provider is likely getting subsidies regardless to offset cost of infrastructure at the parameter (switches, amplifiers, cabling facility, etc)

  • oyid Jun 29, 2010

    Uh... so then municipalities like Wake Forest should NOT be allowed to provide electric power by (1) buying it wholesale from Progress (private entity) and (2) reselling it to residents in a "municipal zone" which is probably 1/2 of town residents (no monopoly). Hmm...seems to me that the municipality is really acting like another business - say co-operative. So what is the issue with towns running Broadband service again?

  • jlhpcarew Jun 29, 2010

    Governments job is to govern, not to run a business. That is what the private sector is for. If the government would get out of the way and allow business to function freely, prices would be competitive. Could it be that government taking over private business models is the reason there are no jobs!!!

  • JaySee Jun 29, 2010

    Hoyle wants to introduce legislation that would force municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money? Voter approval? I see nothing wrong with that. Who wants an unrestrained government running down voter rights? What service does government offer without endless tax hikes? None. Years down the road you are paying through the nose for their inefficient bureaucracy. Oh yeah, in the beginning it appears less expensive but over time it becomes a tax burden... just like it always does. There is no such thing as competition when the government gets involved. They do not compete because they have unlimited income by raising taxes whether you like it or not. The problem is you cannot drop their service due to price hikes. You just take the red hot poker. To see people embrace this philosophy of government takeover is very disturbing. Look what it's done to Venezuela, an economic disaster. It doesn't work.

  • chfdcpt Jun 29, 2010

    When the private industry does not want to provide a service that the citizens want, then I see nothing wrong with the local government taking the race.

    Sen. David Hoyle...9 terms in the senate.

    Sen. Daniel Clodfelter...6 terms in the senate.

    Yet we keep sending all these clowns back to Raleigh after they keep raising taxes, creating new taxes, and putting the State in debt year after year.

  • rogers922 Jun 29, 2010

    This stuffing of his bill into a bill that will pass when his wouldn't reminds me of a suppository....

    Really hope he gets replaced when the time comes to vote.

  • charlesboyer Jun 29, 2010

    I have no use for David Hoyle. He's the sum-gum who was LAUGHING in a WRAL interview last year when he was asked about the fairness of new taxes.

    You can tell that David Hoyle represents David Hoyle and not his constituents. He is a back room dealer who has little regard for what's right, instead, he cares about his benefactors -- which in this case are the telcos.

  • clayt85 Jun 29, 2010


    Browse the stories on that page for a few minutes, if you will. It gives complete details as to how much $$ Sen. Hoyle has received from TWC, as well as other tax incentives these companies were all too happy to take before crying foul when a municipality wanted to take (a very very small amount) of public funds to construct a competing network. It is infuriating to read Mr. Hoyle's self-righteous babble.

    Thankfully, Mr. Hoyle is retiring. One less useless politician who cares more for his wealthy contributors than for the less fortunate he claims to be looking out for.