First proposed last March, North Carolina’s House Bill H431 continues to gain traction. As SmokyMountainNews.com notes, the bill aims to reduce or remove restrictions that make it difficult for local telecom providers to compete with private sector businesses.
Representative Kevin Corbin (R) is one of the chief supporters of the bill.
“Listen, I don’t care how we do it,” he said. “I just want to get my people in my end of the state hooked up to the internet because they deserve the internet as much as somebody that lives in Charlotte or Greensboro or Winston-Salem or Raleigh.”
The bill has numerous requirements designed to balance the load between small providers who want to provide coverage to local markets, and large telecoms for whom rural outreach may be unprofitable.
To obtain funding, a community must submit a feasibility study documenting areas with little or no internet service, including areas with 10 megabits-per-second download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed, and areas with 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. The request must also divulge whether that region has received state or federal grants within the past 18 months. Once the measure is adopted at a public hearing, broadband installation can begin, so long as at least 60 percent of the community’s population exists within an eligible county.
Support from Corbin and other legislators has advanced the bill to the finance committee. On the bill’s unpopularity with big telecom, Corbin reportedly said, laughing, “Man, the big telecoms, I mean they went crazy. They don’t like me and Josh [Dobson (R)], I can tell you that. They speak and wave when they see us, but that’s about it.”
September 5, 2019