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Broadband battle brewing on Jones Street

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The battle over municipal broadband Internet services heats up this week at the General Assembly. On Wednesday, May 6, the N.C. House Public Utilities Committee will consider House Bill 1252, which would severely limit local governments' ability to provide broadband Internet and other telecommunications services. The N.C. Cable and Telecommunications Association has been running push polls across the state to generate support for the bill, which it says will "level the playing field" by forcing municipal service providers to add fees and meet other requirements when they compete with private industry. Americans for Prosperity, the same group that sponsored "tea parties" on tax day, is also running robocalls in support of the legislation. Opponents say the bill would effectively stop local governments from providing Internet service even when private companies choose not to offer the speed and availability citizens and local businesses need. Google and Alcatel-Lucent have joined the City of Raleigh and Town of Chapel Hill in opposition.

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