Sixth Circuit Decision Means Gigabit Hardship for Rural NC

The New York Times yesterday spotlighted the battle for local Internet choice in North Carolina, with a heartrending account of the families and businesses that may lose access to gigabit services from the city of Wilson’s renowned Greenlight network. Wilson may be forced to stop providing services to some customers under the decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that the FCC did not have authority to preempt a North Carolina law that stops Wilson from providing service—even in areas without adequate broadband services and even in areas where Wilson is already the provider of electricity.

The Times article recounts the challenges faced by small businesses and residents in rural Pinetops, NC in getting reliable broadband services before Wilson extended its network to Pinetops. These residents may now lose Greenlight services under the Sixth Circuit decision which, in essence, reinstates the North Carolina law. Local resident Tina Gomez, for example, is concerned about her new telework job with General Electric, a job that was possible only with the reliable high-speed Internet service that Greenlight provides. Ms. Gomez and her husband believe they may have to move if they lose their Greenlight Internet service.

And local business owner Charlotte Vick of Vick Family Farms is concerned that the production and sales increases enabled by Greenlight could disappear. “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.” Mrs. Vick “recalled what life was like before Wilson’s municipal broadband service. Her previous service, supplied by CenturyLink, often stalled or stopped entirely. One week before Thanksgiving a few years ago, the farm was shut down for hours because of an internet failure, so workers had to pack boxes by hand.”

You can find the New York Times article here:  Broadband Law Could Force Rural Residents Off Information Superhighway