Dear Friends – North Carolina has a long tradition of self-help and self-reliance in providing essential local services.
In 1889, Statesville built the state’s first municipal power system when for-profit networks would only serve more urban and affluent communities.
With passage of the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, rural areas of North Carolina moved quickly to form nonprofit electric cooperatives to bring affordable power to farms, homes, schools, and businesses.
Unbelievably, this tradition is under attack by out-of-state corporations.
The N. C. General Assembly just passed a bill (H129) to prohibit municipal broadband networks. Just as Statesville built its own power system to spur economic growth and local job creation, five North Carolina cities – Wilson, Salisbury, Morganton, Davidson, and Mooresville – have built broadband networks to attract new industry and jobs.
While H129 does not outlaw these five networks, it restricts their expansion and requires them to make annual tax payments to the state as if they were for-profit companies. The bill effectively bans any new municipal networks.
The corporate lobbyists gave H129 this self-serving and misleading title: “Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition.” The bill was delivered May 10 to Gov. Perdue for her signature. She has 10 days to exercise her veto, or the bill automatically becomes law.
If H129 becomes law, these out-of-state cable and telephone companies will have the power to dictate North Carolina’s broadband future. With municipal networks out of the way, these companies will no doubt take aim at the state’s independent, nonprofit broadband networks, primarily in the most rural areas.
These networks are especially critical in western North Carolina. Our region has made substantial investments in “middle-mile” fiber networks such as ERC Broadband, BalsamWest, PANGAEA, French Broad EMC, and Skyline Membership Corp. These fiber networks ensure plentiful and affordable bandwidth for “last-mile” broadband providers such as MAIN.
This bill strikes at the heart of our “self-help” heritage and our freedom to chart our own broadband destiny.
Please call, write, or e-mail Gov. Perdue and ask her to VETO this bill (H129) and preserve our rights to self-determination!
Here is Gov. Perdue’s contact information:
Phone: Raleigh Office: 800.662.7952 or 919.733.2391; Asheville Office: 828.251.6160
U.S. Mail: Office of the Governor, 116 W. Jones Street, Raleigh, N.C. 27603
This is a fight we can win, but only if our voices are heard! Please share this “call-to-action” with family and friends via Facebook and Twitter!
And please share my op-ed, co-authored with Tim Karr of Free Press, in today’s Raleigh News & Observer.
Keeping it local,
Mountain Area Information Network