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Time Warner Cable’s $5.26 Million Grant from NY Taxpayers Ruins Their Rhetoric

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Time Warner Cable objects to publicly-owned broadband networks because they represent “unfair” publicly-funded “competition,” despite the fact TWC is also on the public dole.

The next time a cable operator or phone company claims community-owned broadband providers deliver unfair competition because they are government-funded, remind them that quite often that phone or cable company also happens to be on the public dole.

Take Time Warner Cable, which this week won a $5,266,979 grant courtesy of New York State taxpayers to extend their cable system to 4,114 homes in rural parts of upstate New York just outside of the cable company’s current service areas. That equals $1,280.26 in state tax dollars per household. For that public investment, Time Warner will reap private profits for shareholders from selling broadband, cable-TV, phone, and home security services to its newest customers indefinitely.

Now unlike some of my conservative friends, I am not opposed to the state spending money to wire rural New York. It is obvious cable and phone companies will simply never wire these areas on their own so long as Return on Investment conditions fail in these places. What does annoy me are the endless arguments we hear in opposition to public broadband from these same companies, claiming with a straight face that community-owned networks represent “unfair competition” because they are publicly funded. Time Warner Cable is no stranger to public taxpayer benefits itself, having won millions in tax abatements and credits in North Carolina, Ohio and a cool $5 million courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. N.Y. Taxpayer.

Many of the nation’s private telecommunications companies have plenty of love for federal, state, and local officials who have passed favorable tax laws and policies at their behest:

So let us end the silly rhetoric about public vs. private broadband being a question of fairness. This is really a question about who controls your broadband future,  your community or big telecom corporations.

In states like Georgia, elected politicians like Rep. Mark Hamilton want those decisions made by Comcast (Pennsylvania), Windstream (Arkansas) and AT&T (Texas). His bill would make it next to impossible for a local community to do anything but beg and plead the phone company to deliver something, anything that resembles broadband service. For a good part of rural Georgia (and elsewhere), the answer has always been a resounding “no,” at least until the federal government steps up and kicks in your money to help defray the costs of extending Windstream or AT&T’s sub par DSL service that slows to a crawl once the kids are out of school.

Windstream waited for the federal government to kick in $7.28 million in taxpayer dollars before it would agree to extend its DSL service to customers in its own home state of Arkansas.

Windstream waited for the federal government to kick in $7.28 million in taxpayer dollars before it would agree to extend its DSL service to rural customers in its own home state of Arkansas.

You have to wonder about the Republicans in Georgia these days who used to fight for local and state control over almost everything. It should be instinctive for any conservative to want out-of-state pointyheads out of their business, but Rep. Mark Hamilton, himself a business owner, seems content forfeiting those rights to companies headquartered hundreds of miles away. If it was the federal government telling Georgia what kind of broadband service it deserves, do you think Mr. Hamilton would be so amenable? Unfortunately, should Hamilton have his way, for the foreseeable future, residents and business owners in Gray, Sparta, or Eatonton to count just a few will have broadband just the way the state’s phone companies want it — super slow DSL, dial-up or satellite fraudband.

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  • bern jenkins: Good commentary . I loved the points - Does anyone know if I would be able to find a fillable a form form to fill in ?...
  • jennifer: Horrific customer service. But don't worry, I was assured I'd have a technician come fix my internet a week from today. :/...
  • Kyle: It has nothing to do with consumer choice on broadband. It has to do with unelected bureaucrats in the FCC, who are not accountable to congress (the p...
  • Bryan: I would never support anyone who directly or indirectly would want to limit consumer choices for internet. If a municipality can provide faster and c...
  • Kyle: The FCC is not a federal court. They should not be able to overturn state or local law. This has nothing to do with municipal broadband. It has to do ...
  • Johanna D.: Moved out of state for my job in March, was waiting for a final verizon bill, and received 3 bills from fronteir all dated the same day with different...
  • Clinton Kirk: It's not that Sen. Cruz is against the expansion of Broadband in growing communities. The issue is that it should be the States decision and not some...
  • Dahlia: If you do let me know, I will join. They try to say I used 865GB in one month and charged me an extra 20$ for overages. That is BS, there is no way in...
  • Sherice Cuadra: Timely article ! I learned a lot from the facts - Does anyone know if my business might be able to grab a blank a form copy to work with ?...
  • Ethan: A few months ago, TWC gave me a quote for $23,268 for 12 (!) pole permits and about 1600 feet of cable, even though there's a line only 5 poles and 80...
  • Mark: My ailing 85-yo mother, who lives in Yucaipa, CA, has been completely without phone service for almost A WHOLE MONTH now!!! She cannot call her doctor...
  • Raymundo: Us simple folk in FL can only dream of being as smart as you, Joe. Thank you for taking the time to explain things to us so we can understand them....

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