In CLIC’s August 30 blog, we described the battle for local Internet choice in North Carolina, and the New York Times heartrending account of the families and businesses that may lose access to gigabit services from the city of Wilson’s renowned Greenlight network as the result of the Sixth Circuit decision. That decision reversed the FCC’s decision to preempt North Carolina’s anti-competitive law. According to the Wilson Times, Wilson’s council meets tonight and the likely decision will be to disconnect that rural Gigabit City called Pinetops because they are given no other choice, an action that represents a step in the wrong direction for the economic future for North Carolina’s rural areas in a global knowledge economy, and the wrong direction for closing the urban/rural broadband divide in our country.
The Wilson Times captured the sentiment of Wilson’s City Manager, Grant Goings, who faces having to turn off Gigabit service to this tiny eastern North Carolina town and to a new packing plant at a place called Vick Family Farms that runs off the ultrafast internet:
“The system will continue to serve a purpose, but it is extremely difficult to contemplate fiber optics attached to someone’s home, yet they aren’t allowed to use it to connect online,” Goings said. “That is like building a new highway and telling people they can’t drive on it.”
“This is bigger than Wilson. This is about the rural areas, particularly in eastern North Carolina, because the majority of the area does not present enough profitability to attract the private-sector investment,” Goings said. “As a community, a state and frankly as a nation, we need to find ways to connect these rural communities, and our city council believes strongly that our state officials should focus on being part of the solution instead of constructing barriers to prevent communities from being served.”