I always thought internet service should be a public service, like libraries are and thought congress passed legislation in the mid 90's prohibiting it because it interfered with companies ability to make money. Apparently this battle is still has flair ups. The passed into law link is must reading.
...A few years ago, the city of Wilson, North Carolina, decided that it would create its own broadband system, which it called Greenlight. The service offered speeds twice as fast as private competitors in the area for a similar price. Soon, the success of the service spread, and a number of other cities began offering municipal broadband systems that were cheaper and/or faster than private competitors'.
But state legislators - who received $600,000 in contributions from the telecom industry in the previous election cycle - reacted to the spread of these successful services by undercutting them with a bill that made it very difficult for cities to operate their own broadband systems. One provision in the bill made it illegal for cities to offer broadband services that are priced below their costs. "This bill will make it practically impossible for cities to provide a fundamental service. Where's the bill to govern [cable provider] Time Warner? Let's be clear about whose bill this is. This is Time Warner's bill. You need to know who you're doing this for!" thundered Rep. Bill Faison (D) at the time. The bill was unfortunately passed into law.
ALEC did not publicly say that it was behind the North Carolina bill, but the bill bears similarities to ALEC legislation. ALEC is an outspoken opponent of municipal broadband and crafts model bills to limit and kill these systems. Telecom companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Time Warnerare all ALEC funders.
ALEC also unsuccessfully worked to undercut a public broadband system proposed by the city of Lafayette, Lousiana. ALEC's Louisiana state chair (a legislator) introduced a bill that would've placed onerous restrictions on how the city could use fiber-optic cables to provide cheap broadband. The broadband-undercutting bill "almost word for word, matched a piece of legislation kept in the library of the American Legislative Exchange Council." The most damaging provisions of the bill were removed before it was passed, and major telecom companies sued to try to stop Lafeyette from building its system anyway. Fortunately, they lost.
Lafayette's public system offers Internet speeds at a whopping 750 percent cheaper than rival Cox's service at the lowest tier. That means that if ALEC and the telecoms had succeeded in shutting down the system, life would be a whole lot slower....
Free market fundamentalism: free market should only be truly free when it screws the consumer.
The internet service I had in Oregon was a state service. No private companies offered internet when I moved there because it wasn't profitable. I followed the legislation outlawing public internet service as it made its way through congress in the mid 90's. Philadelphia and some other large cities that offered internet as a public service were shut down when the laws were passed. Small towns that offered internet service were shut down too even though no telecommunications companies would offer service there - eliminating all internet service in quite a few rural communities through-out the country. I was surprised to see this come up again as I thought it was already a done deal. I'd like to see that original legislation thrown out so communities could offer internet service. In the least it should be controlled like other PUC's. Watching that legislation move through congress was the first time I realized that they don't act in our best interest. I only learned that then because it's the first time I followed something that closely. Now I know it happens all the time.