North Carolina State With Explicit Roadblocks Class Action Suite Probable

  • North Carolina State With Explicit Roadblocks Class Action Suite Probable

    Posted by Michael on August 11, 2021 at 7:01 am

    North Carolina

    NC Statutes Chapter 160A, Article 16A

    require Wilson and other municipalities to shut down their broadband networks if a private company enters the market.

    North Carolina’s state laws place a number of requisites on municipal broadband initiatives that make it exceedingly difficult for public entities to deploy broadband services to residents. Those requirements include compliance with vague legal requirements and refraining from using specific financing mechanisms and pricing mechanisms. The law also forces public entities to bake so-called “phantom costs” into their rates, and requires public entities to make commercially-sensitive data available to private industry competitors.The state law also prohibits local authorities from offering broadband services beyond their jurisdictions. Some existing publicly-owned broadband networks have been grandfathered in without these requirements. But the laws make it nearly impossible for municipalities to build out new broadband networks to serve residents.

    The community of Wilson, North Carolina, has had a public fiber broadband network in place since 2008. The project’s success has spurred neighboring communities such as Pinetops to request Wilson expand its service to their residents.

    The issue made North Carolina part of an interesting FCC ruling in 2015. Officials in Wilson decided to challenge some of the state’s rules by appealing to the FCC, along with Chattanooga, Tennessee. In turn, the FCC (under Tom Wheeler) attempted to overrule certain aspects of state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee to make municipal broadband more feasible in those states. However, an appellate court reversal determined that the FCC had no jurisdiction to preempt state law over these types of bureaucratic obstacles to municipal broadband.

    Legislators erected further roadblocks to municipal broadband in the state with a piece of legislation that targeted Wilson and its broadband network specifically. Lawmakers successfully amended the state law to include provisions that would allow Wilson to serve residents in nearby Pinetops on a temporary basis, and would require Wilson and other municipalities to shut down their broadband networks if a private company enters the market. Since then, at least one private company — Suddenlink — entered the market, forcing Wilson to shut down its 1 Gbps fiber broadband service to residents in Pinetops.

    In 2019, Rep. Josh Dobsons (R) introduced a bill that would allow municipal governments to build their own broadband networks, so long private ISPs could lease the networks to provide service to residents. The bill, which was opposed by nearly all the large telecom firms in the state, ultimately stalled in committee. But Gov. Roy Cooper did sign legislation allowing electric cooperatives to form partnerships with ISPs for deploying broadband in unserved areas.

    Michael replied 1 year, 1 month ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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