Google Takes On NC Telecoms

    June 25, 2007

Once again, it appears that Google’s looking out for the little guy.  Only in this instance, the “little guy” is both the average consumer and local governments.  According to Google – and Intel, Alcatel-Lucent, and Tropos Networks – a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly has the potential to be a monopoly-maker.

Sam Lagrone, a reporter for The News & Observer, states that HB 1587 “would sharply limit local governments’ ability to create their own telecommunications network,” and “would not allow local governments to use tax revenue to fund any kind of telecommunications utility.”

At first glance, that might not be too upsetting.  After all, tax revenue is already spread pretty thin in most places, and local governments (or those around Lexington, Kentucky, anyway) might not be the best choice to deal with cutting-edge technology.

But John Burchett, Google’s state policy counsel, explained some of the bill’s negative implications in a letter to the North Carolina House Speaker, and suggested that it “would prevent cities and towns from partnering with private telecom providers to establish broadband networks” (italics mine).

“HB 1587 threatens to undermine the establishment of such partnerships, particularly in rural and high-cost urban areas of North Carolina in which the state’s incumbent providers are either serving poorly or not at all,” Burchett continued.

Burchett’s not alone in his opinion; as mentioned earlier, several other companies (and a number of North Carolina towns and cities) agree with Google.  The search engine company has clashed with telecoms on a number of occasions, and it looks like this is one battle that it will win.