Thursday, June 21, 2007

Google, Intel, others oppose "No Competition" act

We've been following the contretemps on Wilson, NC where the local folks seem to have their act pretty well together. There is substantial local opposition to their states version of our "Fair Competition Act."

The local paper reports that they've been joined in their indignation by wireless giants Alcatel-Lucent and Tropos (who will be supplying Lafayette's wireless equipment). They joined Google and Intel in complaining about the ways that such state interference suppresses the growth of competition and private partnerships with companies like theirs.

"HB 1587 threatens to undermine the establishment of such partnerships, particularly in rural and high-cost urban areas of North Carolina in which the state's incumbent providers are either serving poorly or not at all," read the letter signed by Google's state policy counsel, John Burchett.

Intel's letter called erecting barriers to public-sector Internet networks a mistake.

The two companies were joined by Alcatel-Lucent, a networking company in Raleigh, and Tropos Networks, a California-based company that provides wireless networks to cities and towns including Philadelphia and Wrightsville Beach.

Not that local officials need much help in clarifying the purpose of the bill:

Andy Romanet, general counsel with the N.C. League of Municipalities, said ... "It would make it virtually impossible to do one of these projects," ... "I call it the 'No Competition' act."

Mark Chilton, mayor of Carrboro, one of the first towns in the nation with free wireless Internet, said the bill would hurt expansion of that system, and would prevent rural and poorer citizens from getting online.

"It's clear that this is just an industry ploy that everyone and everywhere should have to pay somebody on Wall Street to get on the Internet," Chilton said.

Its nice to know that there the historical suspicion that what is good for Wall Street's large corporations is not necessarily good for Main Street has not been entirely lost..at least not in North Carolina.


Lagniappe: Jim Baller, whose newsletter on breaking telecom news is indispensable, posts links to all the letters filed in opposition to the attempt to foist a "Fair Competition Act" on North Carolina on his municipal broadband reference page.

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