[TriLUG] OT: URGENT: H.129 to be heard in Thursday's Finance Committee!
ncdave4life at gmail.com
Tue Mar 15 10:12:38 EDT 2011
Mark has some misconceptions about HB-129.
1. He says that if HB-129 passes, it'll cause usage caps on broadband
That's nonsense. HB-129 has nothing at all to do with broadband usage caps.
2. He says that passage of HB-129 will mean "broadband competition is
That's the opposite of what HB-129 will do. It will promote competition, not
eliminate it. That's the purpose of the bill!
Here's the bill, read it for yourself:
HB-129 is designed to prevent cities from creating monopoly telecom services
by stomping out private competitors through unfair practices, like abuse of
zoning and land use regulations, or by offering subsidies for customers of
the city telecom service that aren't offered to customers of competing
private telecom services, or by using the city's newsletters to advertise
the city's telecom service.
Here's an excerpt that gives a good feel for the bill:
(a) A city-owned communications service provider...
(4) Shall not, directly or indirectly, under the powers of a city, exercise
power or authority in any area, including zoning or land-use regulation, or
exercise power to withhold or delay the provision of monopoly utility
service, to require any person, including residents of a particular
development, to use or subscribe to any communications service provided by
the city-owned communications service provider.
(5) Shall provide nondiscriminatory access to private communications service
providers on a first-come, first-served basis to rights-of-way, poles,
conduits, or other permanent distribution facilities owned, leased, or
operated by the city unless the facilities have insufficient capacity for
the access and additional capacity cannot reasonably be added to the
facilities. For purposes of this subdivision, the term "nondiscriminatory
access" means that, at a minimum, access shall be granted on the same terms
and conditions as that given to a city-owned communications service
If you want to let cities abuse their authority to stomp out private
competition, then go ahead and oppose this bill. I don't. That's why I
3. Mark also accused Rep. Avila of "outrageous behavior."
That's nonsense. I know Rep. Avila personally, and I know her to be one of
the very best legislators in Raleigh. She is smart, level-headed,
big-hearted, and completely honest. She is a careful listener, and a careful
If, after carefully reading this bill, anyone still has concerns, then I
encourage you to talk with her about them. But don't complain about things
that actually aren't in the bill, just because someone else told you
something that you haven't verified for yourself. Read the bill, and see for
yourself what it says.
Rep. Avila can be swayed by reason, but she won't be swayed by baseless
emotion. You need to know what you're talking about when you talk to her
about the bill!
That said, let me add that I have no love for Time-Warner and AT&T. Both
companies are deeply invested in the pornography business, and neither
treats their customers fairly.
For example, AT&T is currently in the process of ruthlessly squeezing
independent broadband resellers like PortBridge out of existence. AT&T is
required by law to allow resale of DSL, but the federal regulators aren't
requiring them to allow resale of U-Verse, so they refuse to do so. So
companies like PortBridge are stuck selling a product that is quickly
Time-Warner is at least as bad. Their longstanding policy is to extract
every possible nickel from their customers, by any means possible, fair or
Here's a minor example.
Back when I signed up for Time-Warner cablemodem service, they had two
prices. Cable TV customers got a lower price for Internet, and people like
me who didn't get cable TV paid about $20/mo more. Later, they did away with
that price differential, and set the price of internet to midway between the
two previous prices. So they raised the price of internet for their cable TV
subscribers, and lowered it for cablemodem-only subscribers.
All their internet + TV customers got price increases. I should have gotten
a price cut. But I didn't. They just kept billing me at the old, higher
After 6 or 8 months, I learned of the pricing change, and called them up.
The conversation went something like this:
"Why are you billing me for more than the listed price of my service?" I
"You're on a different plan," I was told.
"What's the difference between the plans?" I asked.
"$10/month," was the answer.
"No, I mean what *other* difference?" I asked.
But there was no other difference.
They agreed to switch me to the cheaper "plan." But they refused to refund
They don't exactly follow the Golden Rule at Time-Warner.
So, my point is that I certainly don't trust Time-Warner and AT&T. But I do
trust Rep. Avila, and I trust my own eyes when I read the bill for myself.
HB-129 is a good bill.
Dave "the geek" Burton
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