Both of these bills are being pushed by Time Warner to, in their words, “level the playing field”. You see, they feel they cannot compete with municipal broadband. Funny that a giant the size of Time Warner can’t compete with small towns and cities. Municipal broadband deployments are few and far between here in NC, but where they do exist they offer higher Internet access speeds for less cost than Time Warner or any of the other “high-speed” Internet providers. They make a profit on it too without subsidies, taxes, or anything else. It turns out providing Internet service is a high margin, high profit business.
I don’t want these two bills to pass, and when I heard that SB 1004 was going to be discussed at a special early-morning meeting of the Senate Commerce Committee I thought it would be a good idea to write to the members of said committee and let them know my thoughts on the matter. I used the links on this handy blog post to do it.
Here is what I said:
I am a resident of Raleigh and work in Research Triangle Park. The technical community is watching you and taking names. Do not vote for Senate Bill 1004. This bill is anti-consumer and bad for North Carolina. You and anyone else who votes for this bill will be remembered at the next election. My advice to friends and neighbors, and my personal vote will be in support of candidates that voted NO to Senate Bill 1004. Thank you. - Daniel Bartholomew
I sent the same email to all of the members of the committee. Was it worded a little too strongly? Perhaps. My only defense is I sent the emails early in the day when I hadn’t quite woken up yet, and I was fuming at Time Warner.
A couple of hours later I received the following reply:
From: Sen. Linda Garrou <Linda.Garrou@ncleg.net> Subject: RE: Do not vote for Senate Bill 1004 Mr. Bartholomew, thank you for your message. I must tell you that I do not respond well to threats on any bill. Linda Garrou
O.K. Hmmmm… Fair enough. Like I said, perhaps I worded things too strongly. I sent her the following reply:
To: Sen. Linda Garrou <Linda.Garrou@ncleg.net> Subject: RE: Do not vote for Senate Bill 1004
I'm not threatening anyone with anything other than my vote in the next election. Senate Bill 1004 is bad for consumers and bad for North Carolina. It's being pushed through by Time Warner for their own selfish reasons. Do you want to be known as a friend of the people of North Carolina or as a friend of out-of-state corporate giants? Thank you. - Daniel Bartholomew
Hopefully that will go over better. Yes the last paragraph is a little harsh, but I’m a bit upset at the moment.
The interesting thing to note is I sent out 28 emails this morning and I’ve only received one reply. If I do receive more I’ll be sure to post them.
UPDATE 01: Good news! The bill in the State Senate has been sent to a committee for “further study”. It would have been nice if it had died outright, but you don’t get everything you ask for.
UPDATE 02: I received another email. This time from Sen. Josh Stein:
From: Sen. Josh Stein <Josh.Stein@ncleg.net> Subject: RE: Do not vote for Senate Bill 1004 Thank you for your email on the regulation of competition between local government and private businesses that provide communication services to the public (Senate Bill 1004). It must be a priority of the state to expand broadband access. I will take your thoughts into consideration as Senate Bill 1004 comes before me in the Senate. Again, I appreciate your email, and please feel free to contact me again if you have other concerns on this or other legislation. Sincerely, Josh Stein NC Senate
I don’t know about you, but I much prefer his response to the one I received from Sen. Linda Garrou.