‘The senator from Thime Warner has the floor …’

tillis listenWord from Washington today is that freshman U.S. senator Thom Tillis is upset with the Federal Communications Commission. Why, you ask? Let’s find out: 

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., is moving to overturn a Federal Communications Commission decision that would lift restrictions on city-owned broadband service.

The FCC on Thursday approved the city of Wilson’s petition to remove state restrictions that limited its ability to expand its broadband service called Greenlight.

The restrictions were put into North Carolina law in 2011 when Tillis was House speaker. The legislation, among other restrictions, prevented cities from offering broadband below cost.

Private companies complained that city-owned broadband represented unfair competition, while cities and towns said they offered service in areas where companies were unwilling to go.

Tillis, in a statement, objected to the FCC vote Thursday to overrule existing state laws. Tillis and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee announced they were filing legislation to prevent the FCC from overturning state or local broadband laws. Chattanooga also won an FCC ruling related to state restrictions.

“It is disturbing, yet not surprising, that the FCC and Chairman (Tom) Wheeler are attempting to deny the sovereign right of states to make their own laws,” Tillis said in a statement. “After witnessing how some local governments wasted taxpayer dollars and accumulated millions in debt through poor decision-making, the legislatures of states like North Carolina and Tennessee passed commonsense, bipartisan laws that protect hardworking taxpayers and maintain the fairness of free-market competition.”

According to Tillis’ statement, Wilson lost money on the project: $2.1 million in 2008, $1.1 million in 2009. $1.4 million in 2010, $1.06 million in 2011, and $1.3 million in 2012.

Government maintaining “fairness of free market competition”?  How does that work? The free market is all about people working hard and producing and selling desired goods and services at a price attractive to the public.  It’s competition.  Survival of the fittest.  

This harkens back to the old Robert Brawley-Thom Tillis feud in the General Assembly.  Brawley, a former Republican legislator from Iredell County, raised a number of ethical accusations against Tillis.  For his troubles, he got stripped of his committee chairmanship, censured by the GOP caucus, and primaried by a Tillis-groomed candidate. 
Brawley came out looking like a prophet when he accused Tillis and other House leaders of pushing legislation that sets up a monopoly benefiting the family of a Tillis ally.  A court ruling ended up vindicating Brawley. 
That leads us to another Brawley-Tillis confrontation over rules regulating Internet service sales. Brawley was trying to create some exceptions to allow some small communities to get into the game. Tillis deep-sixed the idea, arguing — purportedly, according to Brawley, — that he had a “business relationship” with Time Warner to protect.
Time Warner inflates its pricing and deliver stagnant service all over the state because it is the only choice in many areas.  Your pricing for their services will depend on who you are, where you live, and what day and time you call. I can be charged $45 per month for high-speed Internet., while they are advertising the same service for $19.99 on TV.  They’ve obviously got a lot of markup built in.
Things should go a little further and ban these franchises — where you get ONE or, God forbid, TWO choices in your community for Internet.  The more options, the better for the customer.

6 thoughts on “‘The senator from Thime Warner has the floor …’

  1. It is easy to get upset with Time Warner and the other corporate providers of internet services, but to give a government agency control over content and delivery systems is far worse.

    The Haymaker should know better especially since Tom Wheeler refused to testify in front of Congress and the content of the regulations were not made public before the vote.

    When the choices are both bad you need to side with market based control and not bureaucrat dictate.

    1. You’re mixing up net neutraility with what we’re talking about here. Two different things. The FCC is actually talking about providing choices to consumers. I believe things should go further — let every provider into the game. Why should be be stuck with ONE or TWo choices? TW can jack up their fees and laugh at us — because they know they are the only choice if we want to be on the internet.

      There is nothing free market about buying off politicians to carve out special no-compete franchises for you so you can maintain a captive audience.

      1. Yes, if only Thom Tillis was concerned about matters of State sovereignty when he or his backers didn’t have a stake in it.

      2. Thanks for your response.
        My research gives me a different read but what you say has a great deal of merit. Still the ease of entry for new providers is capital intense at this stage. The FCC can’t facilitate competition.
        In the beginning Edison wanted to provide any appliance that took electricity from his distribution grid to protect against a user that could overload the system. Someone invented the fuse.
        It took the Carterphone case to get AT & T out of monopoly control over its phone lines. Protection was developed by the company to preserve the integrity of the lines when they lost.
        New technology perhaps satellite based will become the competitor for cable fiber and then you will get your wish for competitive pricing.
        Ralph and Brian Roberts are good business guys and maybe they will get TWC, but the real future is innovation and competition.

  2. The so-called ”net neutrality”, the intrusion of government regulation into the internet is the big issue, not this sideshow that Tillis gets wound up about. Tillis cannot see the forest for the trees. What is he doing, if anything, to combat the Obama regime’s power grab into the internet?

  3. Yeah, it’s kind of a no-brainer Tillis is acting as a crony TWC agent here…. but I dont know that that makes him “wrong”, either.

    At first glance… I wouldnt think the FCC “should” have the ability to override state law like this. From what I understand, municipalities are ultimately creations of the state and in large part under their jurisdiction for this sorta thing.

    So, if these NC municipalities have a problem… their problem is with the state legislature, and I dont get how the FCC should be involved or overriding the state’s decision-making.

    I absolutely HATE Time-Warner (I’m happy to put that out publicly any time I can)- It’s my long-standing position (especially after my latest “customer service” experience), that I’d pay another company a premium over my current, overpriced bill JUST so I could NOT give my money to TWC, and I’d do it with a smile.

    But, I “also” dont think government, even local governments, should be in the ISP business either. The state isnt doing a credible job NOW with “maintaining a free market for competition” – we have this horrible government-created/assisted monopoly situation, exacerbated by the costly barriers to entry the local governments throw up…. that doesnt mean governments getting in the business themselves is any kind of good, free-market answer or competition boost. That cant end well.

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