Monday, August 29, 2016

Big Internet screws the little guy, again

The major internet providers have made a huge success out of their monopolies of service in major population areas. And in those areas where there may be more than one provider, the prices are the same and the only difference is between service that is shitty or worse. In many of the unprovided areas, municipalities have put together local networks that manage to be faster, with better service and available to country folk. Big Internet hates that because it might give people ideas.
The Vick family built the plant only after the nearby city of Wilson agreed early last year to bring its municipal broadband service to the 7,000-acre farm. Since the plant opened in October, the farm’s production and sales to Europe have jumped.

But now, after a legal battle between state and federal officials over broadband, the farm and hundreds of other customers in the eastern region of the state may get unplugged.

“We’re very worried because there is no way we could run this equipment on the internet service we used to have, and we can’t imagine the loss we’ll have to the business,” said Charlotte Vick, head of sales for the farm.

Vick Family Farms got caught between the Federal Communications Commission and North Carolina state legislators over the spread of municipal broadband networks, which are city-run internet providers that have increased competition in the broadband market by serving residents where commercial networks have been unwilling to go.

This month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that will halt the growth of such networks. While the decision directly affects only those two states, it has cast a shadow over dozens of city-run broadband projects started nationwide in recent years to help solve the digital divide.

In siding with the states, the court hobbled the boldest effort by federal officials to support municipal broadband networks. While the court agreed that municipal networks were valuable, it disagreed with the F.C.C.’s legal arguments to pre-empt state laws.

Now, cities like Wilson fear they have little protection from laws like those in about 20 states that curb municipal broadband efforts and favor traditional cable and telecom firms. City officials say cable and telecom companies that have lobbied for state restrictions will be encouraged to fight for even more draconian laws, potentially squashing competition that could lead to lower prices and better speeds to access the web.
God Bless those non-activist judges keeping th peasants from spoiling the profits of those nice internet "service" providers.


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