By Evan Ackerman
You may not realize it, but here in the US, our internet kinda sucks. We pay more money for less speed than just about everyone else in Europe and Asia. The town of Wilson, in North Carolina, got fed up with this and decided to form their own community ISP, called Greenlight, which was unsurprisingly able to compete so effectively with more traditional companies like Time Warner that you can’t even really call it competition:
For example, the city offers an expanded basic cable (81 channels), 10 Mbps (download and upload), and a digital phone plan with unlimited long distance to the U.S. and Canada, all for $99.95. A comparable plan from Time Warner Inc., with six fewer channels (no Cartoon Network, Disney, The Science Channel, ESPNU, ESPN News, or ESPN Classic) and lower upload speeds costs $137.95, for an introductory rate, which lasts a few months and then will likely be ratcheted up.
Greenlight also offers every single cable channel plus premium channels, unlimited phone service, and 20mbps internet for $170 (Time Warner’s fastest available service is 15mbps). And as if that wasn’t enough, Greenlight even has a 100 mbps service. Oh, and you know what else? They have 24/7 local phone support and actually respond to feedback from their community. See? It’s so much better, it’s not even funny. So, you’d think that in light of this, Time Warner would realize that their overpriced and underperforming services would need an overhaul to remain competitive in a world that depends so heavily on internet.
Instead, Time Warner is lobbying the North Carolina senate to pass legislation outlawing community ISPs. And it’s apparently working, too, which I can’t figure out because what could possibly be wrong with providing a better service to people at a cheaper price? Time Warner’s argument is that they can’t compete against a community-owned ISP that’s able to provide services at cost, but it seems to me that the real issue is that Time Warner’s services cost a lot, and they suck, and that’s why there’s no competition. If Time Warner wants to complain about competition, maybe they should first try to get competitive, instead of attempting to outlaw anyone who does things better than they do.