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City ISP Makes Broadband Free Because State Law Prohibits Selling Access

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A municipal ISP that was on the verge of shutting off Internet service outside its city boundaries to comply with a state law has come up with a temporary fix: it will offer broadband for free. The free Internet service for existing customers outside Wilson, North Carolina, will be available for six months, giving users more time to switch to an alternative. But Wilson also hopes that six months will be enough time to convince elected officials to change the state law that prohibits the municipal ISP from selling Internet service to non-residents. As [Ars Technica] covered previously, the Federal Communications Commission voted in February 2015 to preempt laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. Greenlight Community Broadband in Wilson subsequently began offering service outside of Wilson. But officials in both states sued the FCC and in August won reinstatement of their laws that protect private ISPs from municipal competitors. In mid-September, the Wilson City Council reluctantly voted to turn off the fiber Internet service it provides to customers outside Wilson city limits. But that decision was reversed in a City Council vote last week, The Wilson Times reported. (The news came to our attention today via DSLReports.) A Wilson Times editorial reported: “City leaders are walking a tightrope as they balance their desire to keep Vick Family Farms in rural Nash County and 200 customers in the Edgecombe County town of Pinetops connected to Greenlight with their obligation to obey a federal court ruling that blocks the municipal broadband service from branching out beyond county lines. The council agreed Thursday night to provide six months of free internet access and phone service to Greenlight customers outside Wilson County while Wilson lobbies the General Assembly for permission to keep the town connected on a permanent basis.”


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