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« The old future | Main | It's Pat »

Jan 29, 2013

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Andrew Brod

North Carolina has developed a knack for missing opportunities. Local governments want to create affordable, high-quality, and self-supporting broadband networks, but the state says no. The result? As predicted, broadband quality declines.

More recently, the federal government wants to cover the cost of emergency unemployment benefits in North Carolina, an amount exceeding $1 billion per year. But the state says no. It would rather accelerate the pay-down of its debt to the federal government than receive free money, because rejecting the free money is the only way it can do what it really wants, which is to cut unemployment benefits drastically. But it's worse than turning down free money. Unemployed people spend their checks fast, which is why unemployment benefits have just about the biggest bang for the buck among fiscal policies. The Republican-led General Assembly apparently doesn't want that free money circulating through the state economy. Creating jobs is for suckers.

Roch

I believe the law to which you are referring is the ironically named "Level Playing Field/Local Government Competition Act, the law was ratified with the support of local representatives John Blust (as a cosponsor), Phil Berger and Alma Adams and became law by lack of veto (no signature) of Gov. Dumbling.

And, surprise, I'm sure, campaign contribution in 2011 from Internet Providers to those four:

Blust: $250, Time Warner Cable

Berger: $4,000, Century Link; $3,000, Time Warner Cable

Adamas: $1,000, AT&T

Perdue: $4,000 AT&T

Andrew Brod

I too wrote about this misguided cable bill two years ago.

Andrew Brod

Yep, Roch, that was the bill. And as you note, Democrats certainly can't blame it on Republicans.

Hartzman

How is it that you guys can recognize pay to play at the state level, while you can't seem to do it here in Guilford County?

justcorbly

Didn't the new guv say something today about how NC needs to start graduating kids with skills that can make money, instead of learning all that high-falutin' elite stuff they teach over in Chapel Hill?

Fec

Allegations of crony capitalism notwithstanding, the nature of internet traffic is such that much of it is migrating via smartphones and tablets to the cellular network, which is much more competitive than broadband.

Decades ago, AT&T was plowing fiber at a break neck pace when MCR came along with a revolutionary microwave transmission method and changed the long distance game.

I'm still not sure we want to commit public funds on infrastructure which may be rendered obsolete or redundant by another advance in transmission methods. Sure, fiber backbones need to be maintained along major routes, but beyond low interest loans to private industry, government needs to leave these types of pursuits to the entrepreneurs who best understand the risks and rewards.

polifrog

In light of Fec's insight, a trip in the way-back machine...

Brod
Sometimes the holes are there precisely because the ground isn't fertile. In that case, it's not unreasonable to start thinking about government provision, especially for a good that's increasingly considered part of our basic infrastructure.

Are you arguing that the internet access industry is infertile ground for business?

With new providers rolling out new technologies and new methods for opening broadband access to those without across the nation on a regular basis your argument is one that hints at Boomer impatience with no regard for the long-term costs associated with your technology stifling solutions. This is technology and associated better quality of life stolen from later generations by your impatience.

Frequently the best investment in the future is patience.

It still is...

Andrew Brod

And in the meantime, North Carolina's citizens fall further behind those in other states. Patience is fine and dandy for those who've already got theirs.

Ed Cone

Fec, the rise of mobile is driving a rise in heterogeneous networks, which is to say, all that mobile traffic isn't going to be carried by cellular networks, and broadband is increasingly important to mobile traffic. This is especially true for cities and places like corporate and university campuses. My iPad doesn't even have cellular access, and I don't think my wife has ever turned hers on. Meanwhile, larger devices aren't going away, and they continue to get hungrier. So, yes, mobile is huge, but it doesn't mean the death or diminished importance of broadband.

Roch

One might make a distinction between mobile and "unwired" which would include the plethora of municipal-owned and publicly financed wifi networks blanketing progressive cities across the country.

Fec

mobile is huge, but it doesn't mean the death or diminished importance of broadband.

I never said otherwise, but merely pointed out this situation is much more complicated than you originally stated.

I see no impediment to universities leasing right of way and plowing fiber.

When demand is sufficient, private investment will do the same. Currently, TWC's buildout is subsidized by cable content and the replacement of POTS with VOIP. To contend they have somehow pushed out competition that may not even be vying for the market is disingenuous.

Roch

They may not have pushed out competition, but they cut off at the pass municipal networks -- actually, that's not completely accurate, they made it more costly for public networks, essentially requiring that they be taxed, something no other public works projects must endure.

Fec

As we have seen with NC Amendment One and GPAC, the majority of voters are ignorant assholes. Many of them do not care about broadband and certainly aren't going to pay for it, publicly or privately.

Failure to be exempted from a tax is not proscription and contending otherwise is disingenuous.

Roch

Yes, that's why I bothered to distinguish between proscription and an exceptional burden.

hartzman

how are local campaign donors campaign donor issues exempt from similar scrutiny?

Hartzman

I learned a valuable lesson there. If a journalist who profits from political advertising money tells you you should break a campaign promise to win, and then uses it against you, don't do it before it happens.

Hammer listened to the story of how a thousand dollar donor who worked with both Zack and I, said take the money, and then threw me under the bus with it.

I thank John Hammer with all my heart, for giving me reason to never trust the advice of someone who profits from the game.

Roch

Yours was a convenient examples, I've an interest in and have written about local campaign contributions on multiple occasions.

Hartzman

I wasn't talking about you Roch.

Roch

Oh, sorry.

Brian

Interesting news from Chattanooga. (Although a little search discovered it's not that new)
Paying people to move to Chattanooga...

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/01/26/city-turns-internet-speeds-into-jobs/

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