Time Warner, Embarq Fight to Outlaw 100 Mbps Community Broadband in Wilson, NC
Time Warner Inc., after finally dropping its plans for metered internet services for the time being, appears to be back to its old ways. This story begins in Wilson, North Carolina. Wilson is a small city of about 47,000 residents located in the middle of North Carolina, roughly 45 minutes east of Raleigh, the state’s capital.
The city’s residents, like many, long complained over high internet, cable, and telephone prices. So the city launched an ambitious $28M USD program to deliver these services basically at cost, at much lower rates than local service providers Time Warner Inc. and Embarq.
For example, the city offers an expanded basic cable (81 channels), 10 Mbps (download and upload), and a digital phone plan with unlimited long distance to the U.S. and Canada, all for $99.95. A comparable plan from Time Warner Inc., with six fewer channels (no Cartoon Network, Disney, The Science Channel, ESPNU, ESPN News, or ESPN Classic) and lower upload speeds costs $137.95, for an introductory rate, which lasts a few months and then will likely be ratcheted up.
The city service, named Greenlight Inc., also offers a premium package with 20 Mbps (download and upload), faster than any service provider in the area (Time Warner Inc. and Embarq’s "Turbo" plans top out at 15 Mbps download). And Greenlight also offers a stunning 100 Mbps (download and upload) local service as well, though it is not listed on their website in the basic packages.
Rather than admit defeat to the pesky local service and go quietly, Time Warner Inc. and Embarq decided to take the fight to the state government, lobbying for several years to get the state government to pass laws to try to destroy the local effort. And sure enough, thanks to a lot of hard work (and money), the cable companies are close to getting their wish — North Carolina’s State Senate have proposed bills to not only effectively crippling or banning the local service, but also to prevent such services from getting funds under the broadband portion of the national Stimulus law.
One of the biggest reasons I am not a "conservative" or a "neo-con" is a fundamental underlying notion that the big corporations almost always are willing to use their clout to crush competition and screw the little guy. Not regulating their behavior leads to huge amounts of wealth in the hands of the fat pigs running the companies, and the workers get walked on, as do the consumers. It doesn’t take a genius to read history.