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Time Warner Cable Backlash Continues
Metered billing gaffe brings renewed attention to muni-broadband...
by Karl Bode 02:38PM Thursday Apr 23 2009
On Tuesday we mentioned how Time Warner Cable is lobbying to crush community deployed fiber service in Wilson, North Carolina. These lobbying efforts, which have been going on for years, normally don't garner much attention from the gadget and Steve Jobs obsessed technology media, but that's changed. With Time Warner Cable not apparently in the public's good graces, Wednesday and Thursday were jam packed (Daily Tech, Slashdot, Techdirt, Consumerist, dozens more) with coverage of Wilson.

The attention has driven a lot of visitors to the new Wilson blog, where city Public Affairs Manager Brian Bowman is trying to alert residents to Time Warner Cable's efforts to prohibit cities in North Carolina from serving themselves with broadband -- even in instances where nobody else wants to. Bowman highlights just how much power Time Warner Cable has over local lawmakers:
Here’s the part that really surprised me. Several times, members of the committee asked bill sponsors Rep Ty Harrell (Wake) and Rep Thom Tillis (Mecklenburg) for clarification. The lawmakers turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their behalf. You read that right. The sponsors, elected by their communities, had to ask a Time Warner rep to clarify what their own bill said.
Of course carriers have been writing such bills for lawmakers for much of the past decade, have successfully passed such laws in more than a dozen states, and this is their second serious push in North Carolina. It's interesting that Time Warner Cable's (so far) failed attempt to impose metered billing not only resulted in an unprecedented backlash against metered billing, but it rekindled interest in community broadband bans. That's probably not what Time Warner Cable had in mind, but the city of Wilson probably doesn't mind.

As an aside, Time Warner Cable's CEO Glenn Britt's compensation was $14.4 million last year, sadly 8% less than he earned the year before. Britt's last two years of compensation are more than it cost to build the entire Wilson fiber network, which for $28 million delivers symmetrical speeds up to 100Mbps to an entire city of 50,000 people under the Greenlight brand.

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