Time Warner lobbies government to cripple community ISP

The incredible wave of negative publicity from Time Warner's (now postponed) plan for bandwidth caps on all of their broadband internet plans has barely died down. That isn't stopping the increasingly despised ISP from giving people another reason to hate them, though. This time around, Time Warner is lobbying the North Carolina state senate to pass laws that would cripple highly competitive community broadband providers and even disqualify them from receiving federal aid from the proposed national stimulus plan.

A while back, the city of Wilson, North Carolina approached both Time Warner and local provider Embarq asking them to provide higher internet access speeds to residents of the city. Unwilling to cut into their profit margins, both companies rejected the proposal. The city, determined to increase the speeds of broadband access, decided to then create Greenlight Inc, a city run fiber optic network providing very affordable high speed internet, cable TV, and VOIP access to all of the city's residents. The problem? It was TOO affordable in the eyes of Time Warner and Embarq as neither company could compete, price wise, with the government effort. In one example, a Greenlight plan that consists of 81 cable TV channels, 10mbps (up and down) internet access, and unlimited VOIP costs residents of the city $99. A comparable plan, with six fewer channels and slower internet speeds, from Time Warner would start at an introductory rate of $137 which then gets increased after the promotional period is over.

Unfortunately, Time Warner's persistence and financial backing seem to be convincing quite a few state leaders. While no final vote has been taken yet, these new anti-competition laws are gaining support from both Republicans and Democrats in the state senate. The city of Wilson is trying its best to fight back. They have started their own blog to bring the public's attention to the issue and to persuade state leaders to reject the Time Warner backed initiative. Wilson residents, the city government, and most people outside of the Time Warner bubble are hoping Wilson can win this war.

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Here here for socialism!!!!! More proof that governments can run things well enough and affordable. i.e. Education, health care, and now internet access. They are exposing the corporate lie of libertarianism and the so-called fiction of the free market.... Without proper regulations and other safeguards there can be no free market. That's the irony of it all.

Libertarianism Makes You Stupid

The current economic crisis in America more than bares this out.

And in socialist countries like China, the people are oppressed and have no freedom of speech, and a large portion of them live in abject poverty with no prospect of an improvement on their situation.

There is no right or wrong answer, a mixture of policies works best.

Frank Fontaine said,
And in socialist countries like China, the people are oppressed and have no freedom of speech, and a large portion of them live in abject poverty with no prospect of an improvement on their situation.

There is no right or wrong answer, a mixture of policies works best.

China is not a socialist country, its a communist country. Big difference. Canada is a socialistic country.

BTW, people were being greatly oppressed in China long before communism came about and in fact they are much better off now then they were before. That's the irony of it all. You really should study some history.

PS

Only 4 other countries, in the West, pay lower taxes than the average American does. And it shows.......... 70% of America's infrastructure is deemed unsafe.

If I was king of the world, I would make all the geniuses on this board have to take a Macroeconomics class before posting comments regarding government-created "corporations." And before any of you pipe up defensively that you already took such a class, then I would say: Try re-taking it, and not going to the class-sessions baked out of your skulls as you did before. I realize that I am not starting with my friendliest approach to this matter, but whenever otherwise intelligent people all fall for the promises of Greenlight like the children of Hamlin fell for the music of the Pied Piper, well, a bit of tough-love is definitely in order!

Just where does everyone think that the city fathers of Wilson are going to get the capital for Greenlight, hmm? As a super high-speed ISP, there will be massive capital costs, inasmuch as the new system will not be able to hitchhike on the existing power and telephone lines. New overhead and underground lines will have to be laid, and the money for such a largr project will have to come out either new taxes, or a new bond-issue. Adding a new tax in a severe recession is about as smart as a doctor prescribing strychnine to a poisoning victim. If people had trouble paying their ISP bills before, just wait until their city tries to provide them with reduced-cost high-speed Internet access! While it will be [u]years[u] before Wilson gets all the necessary cable laid, the taxes for the non-existent service will start right away - ingenius! By the time the cable gets laid, many of the Wilson residents will have been rendered too broke by the taxes for the "cheap" service to afford it. "What about that bond-issue that you mentioned?" Glad you asked. In case you have not heard, the nation's banks, the institutions that front the money for bond-issues, are not doing so well these days. In other words: There is no money for a new large-capital investment right now. The only thing that Wilson can succeed doing in the short-term is raise people's taxes in the face of an economic downturn. Smart. Real smart.

Trent01 said,
If I was king of the world, I would make all the geniuses on this board have to take a Macroeconomics class before posting comments regarding government-created "corporations." And before any of you pipe up defensively that you already took such a class, then I would say: Try re-taking it, and not going to the class-sessions baked out of your skulls as you did before. I realize that I am not starting with my friendliest approach to this matter, but whenever otherwise intelligent people all fall for the promises of Greenlight like the children of Hamlin fell for the music of the Pied Piper, well, a bit of tough-love is definitely in order!

Just where does everyone think that the city fathers of Wilson are going to get the capital for Greenlight, hmm? As a super high-speed ISP, there will be massive capital costs, inasmuch as the new system will not be able to hitchhike on the existing power and telephone lines. New overhead and underground lines will have to be laid, and the money for such a largr project will have to come out either new taxes, or a new bond-issue. Adding a new tax in a severe recession is about as smart as a doctor prescribing strychnine to a poisoning victim. If people had trouble paying their ISP bills before, just wait until their city tries to provide them with reduced-cost high-speed Internet access! While it will be [u]years[u] before Wilson gets all the necessary cable laid, the taxes for the non-existent service will start right away - ingenius! By the time the cable gets laid, many of the Wilson residents will have been rendered too broke by the taxes for the "cheap" service to afford it. "What about that bond-issue that you mentioned?" Glad you asked. In case you have not heard, the nation's banks, the institutions that front the money for bond-issues, are not doing so well these days. In other words: There is no money for a new large-capital investment right now. The only thing that Wilson can succeed doing in the short-term is raise people's taxes in the face of an economic downturn. Smart. Real smart.


Will my taxes go up because this project is so expensive?
No. The funds for constructing the fiber network come from bonds issued by the City of Wilson. Tax revenues are not being used to fund this project in any way.


Source: http://www.greenlightnc.com/about/faq/

Well since a *** page from the city of Wilson said a bond-issue will work, even in a downturing economy, and what with the banks that are supposed float the bonds failing, no one's got nuttin' to worry about, silly me!

It's pretty sad these days when large corporations are too chicken **** to fight for business and compete, nowadays few corporations want competition, it's all mergers and aquisitions to create monopolies.

I think a lot of cities & towns can learn from Greenlight, remember if you build it they will come.

When Triniti Communications comes out with Nuclius HD IPTV they will crush Time Warner and I can't wait. These companies are getting ridiculous.

Although I do not know Time Warner's specific situation, in a lot of cases they are not able to compete because the government requires Time Warner and other telco providers to provide the lower cost ISP's the backbone to provide their service and the Time Warners or other telco's cannot charge them anymore than a specific charge that the government regulates. Now I'm not saying that is the case here but it does happen.

Read the second paragraph of the article:

The city, determined to increase the speeds of broadband access, decided to then create Greenlight Inc, a city run fiber optic network providing very affordable high speed internet, cable TV, and VOIP access to all of the city's residents

The city built their own network, they aren't using Timer Warner's network.

I get that they built there on fiber network but most cases they still have to use a major provider like Time Warner's Backbone connection to the internet.

I personally live in NC in Goldsboro, about 30 min away from Wilson and we have 10mb down and 512k up for $60/month from TWC. To me it's not worth the price seeing as Wilson has Greenlight and offers much faster than 10mb here is there site. http://www.greenlightnc.com/home/internet/ Hell they even have more channels of HD than DirecTV lol.

Prices:

10Mbps Tier 10 Mbps/10 Mbps $34.95
20Mbps Tier 20 Mbps/20 Mbps $54.95
40Mbps Tier 40 Mbps/40 Mbps $99.95
60Mbps Tier 60 Mbps/60 Mbps $199.95
100Mbps Tier 100 Mbps/100 Mbps $299.95


My only other option is AT&T which I work for but they only offer 3mb down and 256k up for $45 and personally AT&T sux.

I've said what I'm about to say a million times over:

"Capitalism is GREAT but it has a horrible tendency to CORRUPT."

Don't get me wrong - I love capitalism. I just hate the fact that it runs on the honor system. The honor system is broken with no chance of being repaired in our time. It's all "me, me, me" from here on out. Shame, shame.

But we don't have a free market or capitalism. The great thing about it is no government interference or regulation. That means that someone could take advantage of the situation but if they do then it would be up to you as the consumer to either go to a better competitor/start your own company which would offer a better service/ or just be ignorant and sit there and take it. The idea of a free market is to let you decide what you want to do and not to let a bigger brother decide what you should do or have.

To have the government involved so they can be more profitable is absurd! If Greenlight can do it for less so can TW!

UPDATE:
Okay, folks, this is a bit dry but here's what happened today. I would have posted sooner, but couldn't get a decent wireless signal in the legislative office building.

House Bill 1252, the one that would prevent local governments from providing better broadband in NC was -not- voted on today in the Science and Technology Committee. But Brian, you ask, isn't that where the sponsors were? Yes, it is. But, after talking about several amendments to the bill and hearing from our Mayor and the Mayor of Salisbury, a substitute motion was made to send the bill ‘without prejudice' to the House Utility Committee. The term ‘without prejudice' means they weren't recommending passage or denial, just sending it to another committee.

While this is better than it could have been, the fight isn't over. Now, the utility committee takes it up and we all start over.

Here's the part that really surprised me. Several times, members of the committee asked bill sponsors Rep. Ty Harrell (Wake) and Rep. Thom Tillis (Mecklenburg) for clarification. The lawmakers turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their behalf. You read that right. The sponsors, elected by their communities, had to ask a Time Warner rep to clarify what their own bill said.

Anyway, the debate goes to the Utility Committee. Thanks to Rep. Phillip Haire (Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties) for making the substitute motion that the bill go to another committee.

Thanks to YOU or your encouragement as we continue this battle (as our Mayor puts it) of David versus Goliath and all his cousins.

statepkt said,
...
Here's the part that really surprised me. Several times, members of the committee asked bill sponsors Rep. Ty Harrell (Wake) and Rep. Thom Tillis (Mecklenburg) for clarification. The lawmakers turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their behalf. You read that right. The sponsors, elected by their communities, had to ask a Time Warner rep to clarify what their own bill said.
...

*blink* Who's writing the bill? It might be legitimate to have a company rep or attorney speak regarding reasons for a bill, but for clarification of its contents? That does seem silly. I wonder if this is anything out of the ordinary.

Time Warner has a legitimate position here in defending its business. Remember- it's a company and its goal is to make money and grow. This is what is demanded of every publicly traded company owned in part in the form of stock by people like you and I. This is the so-called "greed" that people on these forums moan about. It's your retirement fund.
Understand where Time Warner is coming from, here. It's pretty tough to compete with an entity that has no need and probably no intent on turning a profit. That's certainly not a level playing field. Everyone likes the idea of cheap internet, but how do you feel about the government being in control of it? I think we all know how well the government runs things! I think municipal ISPs are a nice idea, but I don't think running companies out of business is. We place tarriffs on many foreign goods to keep things we produce in our own country competitive with them. I think that might be a reasonable approach to take in this situation. That would keep other providers in the race, and surplus monies obtained by the municipal ISP can be used to offset property taxes or be poured back into the community.

TWC also have exclusivity agreements with governments to make sure other ISPs don't compete with them. Why shouldn't VZ FiOS or AT&T's Uverse be allowed to compete with TWC everywhere?

statepkt said,
TWC also have exclusivity agreements with governments to make sure other ISPs don't compete with them. Why shouldn't VZ FiOS or AT&T's Uverse be allowed to compete with TWC everywhere?

I believe those are more like agreements to make sure that laying fiber and copper end up being profitable and sustainable for the companies that lay them. It's an "I'll go to the expense of installing this crap if you can guarantee me that I'll recoup my costs over the next few years by not letting others encroach on my territory." Without those deals, I think you'd see less growth of infrastructure- especially in sparsely populated areas.

Well it may be the law, but I totally do not agree with it. If my neighborhood decides to have a co-op for growing vegetables and don't plan to turn a profit, then I don't see why my local grocery store should have the right to demand the co-op to be competitive.

TWC should not be able to demand that an ISP be "banned" just because they can't compete with their prices. That is silly.

chrizzle30 said,
Well it may be the law, but I totally do not agree with it. If my neighborhood decides to have a co-op for growing vegetables and don't plan to turn a profit, then I don't see why my local grocery store should have the right to demand the co-op to be competitive.

TWC should not be able to demand that an ISP be "banned" just because they can't compete with their prices. That is silly.


If I understand it, they're not asking for a ban on such a thing. If you want to go with the grocery parallel, it would be odd, but your city could make an agreement with a grocery store who buys acres upon acres of land and cultivates it in order to provide fresh, locally-grown produce for the town in exchange for disallowing farming co-ops in the city limits for x years.

Skwerl said,
Time Warner has a legitimate position here in defending its business. Remember- it's a company and its goal is to make money and grow.
And its obligation is to provide a fair service for a fair price.

Skwerl said,
Understand where Time Warner is coming from, here. It's pretty tough to compete with an entity that has no need and probably no intent on turning a profit. That's certainly not a level playing field. Everyone likes the idea of cheap internet, but how do you feel about the government being in control of it? I think we all know how well the government runs things! :)
If TW thinks it's so unprofitable, they can exit the business. A better-run entity will take its place, government or private.
There is a huge difference between Local government and Federal government. Remember that, always.

Totally disagree. All the local governments are trying to do is give the consumer a better deal, with faster and cheaper Broadband. If TW can't match it then they need to invest in their network. Despite the US apparently seeming to think it is a world beater at everything, countries like Sweden and China make them look stupid, and with the attitude of companies like TW it will just get worse for them. Stifling development to ensure a company hits its profit margins is counter-intuitive and stupid.

I'm dropping TWC as soon as FiOS is available in my area. Slated for later this year. Most of the rest of the city is up and running. I will also save about about 50 dollars a month between cheaper cable and internet, and I will get a 4mbit upload boost.

Its compaines like Time Warner that stifle creativity and hold back technological progress. Its a sad day if the government does step in. I don't understand how its against the law, that if you can't get what you want/need from a bloated company that you can't just make your own. I can build my own car. My own house. Hell, even my own airplane. Why couldn't I build my own ISP?

they claim public ISP's are anti-competative.... psh look at the companies that are there now, they will do ANYTHIGN to keep out competition

Sounds like they are trying to monopolize the internet market in that state lol.

Gotta suck for the people living in those particular states.

It is insane the things they want. They are trying to swash a lower priced, small area competitor, saying that it is hurting competition. They are trying to smash their only rival; that is the DEFINITION of hurting competition!

It is just greed. They want to force you to choose between their internet or nothing at all. That way, they can price it however they want and keep your service nice and slow.

It's certainly very wrong when the elected officials start listening to corporations more than the people that voted them into power...

The government should be afraid of their people, not the people afraid of their government.

The reason corporations like TW are able to get away with this is because they have the politicians in their pockets. There needs to be a law to stop huge corporations from donating funds to elections. Corporations never spend money where there is no profit. Next thing you know the elected politicians are doling out favors and support ridiculous laws such as the one being proposed by TW. Its time to separate corporations from politicians.

Go figure, we get out cable and internet from a community based ISP. cfu.net and while they aren't the best in the world, Mediacom is far worse. Did did like to cut the cable after CFU accidentally cut Mediacom's (because there's no map to indicate where the wires are buried on mediacom's side. So in revenge Mediacom knew where CFU's was buried and supposedly accidentally cut CFU's fiber optic in the industrial park. I don't know anymore about that. mcse teacher worked for a company not far from the college and thats the story I was told. Mediacom has fought extremely hard to keep Waterloo, IA from having one. So far they've succeeded.

There prices are insane!
10Mbps Tier 10 Mbps 10 Mbps $34.95
20Mbps Tier 20 Mbps 20 Mbps $54.95
40Mbps Tier 40 Mbps 40 Mbps $99.95
60Mbps Tier 60 Mbps 60 Mbps $199.95
100Mbps Tier 100 Mbps 100 Mbps $299.95

WOW

I am curious, were are you getting this information from, what is your source? I have Time Warner service (RoadRunner), and all I pay is $52.00 a month for unlimited bandwith, which I have had for approx. three years now!

Those are the prices for Greenlight and I guarantee you're paying $52 a month for 10mbps/2mbps service which is nothing compared to what you can get from Greenlight for the same price.

Whats with the prices in the US? Seriously...

In the UK I have 10Mb down / 1Mb up and no cap for less than 10 dollars. Oh, no throttling either.

ISPs seriously like to milk you over there, don't they?

Capitalism at its best is competition. Time Warner is hoping to lower competition which isn't capitalism at its best. They are hoping to step outside of the competitive marketplace and be closer to a monopoly or oligopoly.

Sort of. But it's a government run ISP, so its not really the free market.

Not that I don't think its a good idea, just adds a twist to the situation.

Except not. The very fact that there is any possibility of government interference with this just shows we don't have a free market. Capitalism would be either lowering your price/offering a better deal or going out of business, not running to the government to stop the evil company offering more value for the money.

As a Time Warner customer for the last few years, I was fairly impressed with their service until all this started to happen. I used to think, "at least I don't have to endure the capping and throttling of Comcast", but now it looks like that might happen to me too. I hope that this proposed law gets taken down. More competition is always good for the consumer.

I don't know how anyone can even remotely compare Comcast's cap of 250GB to TWC's cap of 40GB. The two numbers are so far apart. More importantly, 40GB is something that many customers can hit with out doing anything illegal and 250GB is not.

Purple Haze said,
Pathetic that a small community startup can easily - easily - provide a better value than a huge, underhanded conglomerate.

Name a single huge, underhanded conglomerate that isn't a menace to society? There aren't any, they are all out to profit by any means they can get away with. They destroy fair competition, run themselves into the ground by mismanagement and corruption, and then demand a government bailout.

Purple Haze said,
Pathetic that a small community startup can easily - easily - provide a better value than a huge, underhanded conglomerate.

Yeah, what's amazing is that they could afford to build the infrastructure and everything themselves and still keep it reasonably priced. One can argue that they aren't factoring in profit (Which when does the government not), but they can't argue the cost involved, which Time Warner would not have...

toadeater said,
Name a single huge, underhanded conglomerate that isn't a menace to society? There aren't any, they are all out to profit by any means they can get away with. They destroy fair competition, run themselves into the ground by mismanagement and corruption, and then demand a government bailout.

Desjardins Group, which is a financial service cooperative. Each member has an equal voice on what to do with the benefits.

toadeater said,
Name a single huge, underhanded conglomerate that isn't a menace to society?...

...and simple people like our neighbours works in it and contributes to that menace every day by making small mean choices, you know, with "I am just doing my job" attitude.

toadeater said,
Name a single huge, underhanded conglomerate that isn't a menace to society? There aren't any, they are all out to profit by any means they can get away with. They destroy fair competition, run themselves into the ground by mismanagement and corruption, and then demand a government bailout.


The melodrama is killing me...

I can't wait until you all move out of your parents house or the dorms and have to get a job, and join the rest of us making small, mean choices.

Ugh! This is exactly what's wrong with our government! Look at Japan for example and how high their speeds are. They blow ours out of the water. Please lawmakers, do yourself a favor and not listen to these greedy corporations.

I agree, their is no reason whatsoever to hike prices or limit bandwith. With today's technology, it should be affordable for all. More so, I believe the technology should be of better quality as well, rather than quit working every so often. I was told that I need to reset my modem every so often, something I should not have to do!

Well, this is their business strategy to deal with the bad economy.

And it really doesn't matter how much bad PR they build, because they are still going to be most of their customers' only option.

Yah too bad that they have a monopoly in many places around this country or I'd bet there would be a lot of people (Note: A Lot, not all since there are a lot of cattle out there.) who would drop their *** like an 80 pound, or dollar, fat suit. I myself would drop Crapcast if I could.

lawtai said,
Time Warner seems to be doing a decent job of building up bad publicity...