Update on Muni Broadband Decision. The Fate of Pinetop, N.C.

Last week, I wrote about the 6th Circuit’s decision in the muni broadband caseTN v. FCC. I mentioned in passing that the opinion pretty much keeps the status quo. Then I found from a reader about Pinetop, N.C.

 

As reported here and here, Greenlight, the muni provider of Wilson, N.C., took advantage of the FCC’s 2015 Order and began offering gigabit broadband in Pinetop, population 1400. Pinetop lies in Edgecomb County, next door to Wilson County. Under the 2010 N.C. anti-muni law, Greenlight could serve anyone in Wilson County but not go outside Wilson County to neighboring Edgecomb  County. But Wilson decided to take a shot and honor Pintetop’s request to provide service (Greenlight already provides electric service in Pinetop as a muni electric provider, so it wasn’t much of a leap).

 

The legal situation on this is now somewhat complicated. The 6th Cir. had not stayed the FCC’s preemption order in 2015, so it was totally legal for Greenlight to offer service. What is unclear now is how to read NC law now that it is “un-preempted” by the Sixth Circuit overturning the FCC. I admit I have no idea how to even begin to answer this question.

 

But it’s not an abstract legal question. The availability of broadband in Pinetop matters a great deal to the people of Pinetop.

 

Stay tuned . . . .

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One Comment

  1. Chuck Jackson says:

    Perhaps you meant “Pinetops” NC? It’s 15 miles east of Wilson. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinetops,_North_Carolina and
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Pinetops,+NC+27864/

    The Time Warner website indicates that they provide broadband in Pinetops.
    http://www.cabletv.com/time-warner/nc/pinetops

    They say:
    Save Bundles with a Time Warner Cable Bundle
    There are more households than ever that bundle TV, home phone and/or Internet services, and you can join them with a bundle from Time Warner Cable. The number of Pinetops, NC homes who bundle their home services have increased to 66%. That’s 769 who benefit from bundling their home services.

    Wikipedia states that the 2000 census showed Pinetops had 557 households. So, it’s likely that Time Warner is reporting households in the county outside Pinetops.

    The Wilson provider, Greenlight, offers a basic cable service (about 80 channels) for $49.95 per month. Time Warner’s comparable service is more expensive—4 cents per month more expensive or $10.04 per month more expensive depending on which Time-Warner web page you read—but it offers 200+ channels and on-demand services.

    Wilson’s February 26, 2015 press release stated:
    Wilson filed this petition not with immediate plans to expand into its rural neighboring communities, but to facilitate the future advancement of its critical Gigabit fiber-optic infrastructure over the long term

    Bottom line. Excluding Greenlight from Pinetops will not deny the residents of Pinetop broadband service.

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