State News

Bill would limit N.C. cities starting broadband

Posted May 26, 2010 1:51 p.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2010 3:28 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina legislators are trying to make it harder for cities and towns to start broadband Internet services that compete with big telephone and cable companies.

The state Senate is considering legislation forcing municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money to build a competing broadband network. A committee on Wednesday postponed plans to examine the proposal.

Telecom corporations have sought for several years to keep towns from following Wilson and Salisbury into the broadband business.

The Senate bill's sponsor says communities that don't pay taxes shouldn't be competing with business, but compromise is being negotiated.

Advocates say local high-speed Internet is faster and cheaper than the companies are willing to offer.

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

Time Warner Cable recently alerted employees via e-mail to lobby lawmakers to support the measure.

"We are not against competition, but think everyone should abide by the same rules," the e-mail stated, noting municipal-run systems don't have to pay taxes.