2013-03-04 19:22:47

Digital Divide: Telecomm Industry vs. Communities

As many as one in 10 Americans cannot get Internet connections fast enough for common online activities such as watching video. Many communities have responded to this digital divide by creating their own municipal broadband networks as an alternative to the slow services offered by cable and telephone companies in order to gain equal access to education, healthcare and even jobs. One example of success is Thomasville, Georgia, which has been connecting people for more than a decade. But these efforts could soon be blocked. Some 19 states have passed laws to stop these communities from making such investments, and Georgia could be next. We are joined by Chris Mitchell, director of the Telecommunications as Commons Initiative, of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He recently co-authored a report, "The Empire Lobbies Back: How National Cable and DSL Companies Banned the Competition in North Carolina." Catharine Rice is the president of the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, which represents Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. She led the effort to block an industry-sponsored bill on municipal broadband investment in North Carolina, which passed last year after Republicans came to power in the state, including a longtime friend of the Koch brothers, Art Pope, who is now the governor’s budget director.

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