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WASHINGTON – North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue today refused to veto a bill that will hinder towns’ and municipalities’ ability to build their own broadband networks, ignoring of thousands of phone calls and emails from her constituents and others around the country concerned about communities being stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide. The bill, pushed through the statehouse by Time Warner Cable and CenturyLink, stifles local efforts to bring faster, affordable broadband to areas of the state under served by the incumbent phone and cable companies.

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

“In refusing to veto the bill, Governor Perdue sided with powerful phone and cable companies and against efforts by local communities to build their own crucial communications infrastructure. Rather than stand up for her constituents, she ignored their voices and thousands of others from across the nation who had urged her to stand up for real broadband competition and choice.

“The big cable companies view these municipal upstarts as major threats and are willing to shower local legislatures with campaign contributions to block their way. North Carolina is just the latest example of what phone and cable incumbents are hoping to do across the nation. Though they’re unwilling to invest in their networks or extend them to communities that need them, they won’t allow anyone else to do it. They’re now threatening to introduce similar bills in other states where municipal broadband efforts are poised to provide citizens with cheaper and faster alternatives.

“In light of what has happened in North Carolina, we need federal legislation that would protect the rights of communities to build their own municipal networks. Protecting local communities’ ability to build their own networks was a key recommendation of the National Broadband Plan, and such legislation has attracted bipartisan support in the past. Millions of people across the country lack access to broadband Internet because big companies like Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink and AT&T chose not to extend services to where they live. These same companies – and the politicians whose campaigns they fund – should not be able to block local governments from offering the Internet service their constituents need.”

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