Leading from the Left

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Limiting Local Government Authority to Promote Wireless

Corporate forces in NC, particularly the cable industry, are attempting to prevent local governments from establishing innovative technology practices such as downtown wireless networks. They've gotten their supporters in the General Assembly to file HB 1587, "Local Government Fair Competition Act." You gotta love that title, it's a great example of legislative double-speak. HB 1587 is, in reality, a bill that limits local goverment's activity and keeps them from competing in the market place. It takes gall, doesn't it?

For awhile the bill seemed to be gaining traction but now the tide may be turning as Google, Intel, Alcatel-Lucent, and Tropos Networks have come out in opposition to HB 1587. Their opposition is critical because they are strong enough and big enough to go head-to-head with the cable industry and win. To date most of the opposition to this bill has come from a handful of local governments and grassroots activists. (Chapel Hill-based tech activist Brian Russell deserves kudos for shining the spotlight on this bill and getting folks to start paying attention). But having these four tech companies on our side may help turn the tide in the General Assembly against this misguided bill.

Here's an article from the N&O that explains in more detail what is going on. Already a number of local governments in NC have adopted resolutions calling upon the General Assembly to do the right thing and defeat this bill. The Board of County Commissioners will consider such a resolution at our regularly scheduled meeting next Tuesday.