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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