Originally published: November 3, 2010
Last updated: November 3, 2010 - 8:24pm
It was a bitter Tuesday for the champions of Fiber-To-The-Premises municipal broadband in Wilson, North Carolina.
The city has settled a year-long legal battle with the area's local cable/telco association. The group represents Time Warner Cable, the biggest competitor to Wilson's super fast muni broadband service. The association demanded the project's confidential business records following its unsuccessful bid for a $19.5 million broadband stimulus grant. After a protracted struggle, the city has released the documents, and this week paid the trade group's attorneys $25,000 in legal fees to boot. "We have known from the very beginning that, if we built a fiber-optic network, it would basically be a situation where we'll constantly be in court with Time Warner," Wilson's city manager told the Wilson Times. "We're not surprised. I think this won't be the last time we have a court case with Time Warner."
Time Warner found a new way to put pressure on Greenlight -- by opposing its application for a National Telecommunications and Information Agency broadband stimulus grant to beef up its last mile lines. The trade group demanded that Greenlight fork over its stimulus application. When the city refused, NCCTA lawyers sued and won in a state Superior Court. Wilson appealed, but saw that the fat lady had sung following a series of additional legal defeats. The municipality surrendered the document. The folks over at Community Broadband Networks also think it's a shame, but for different reasons. Forcing Greenlight to turn confidential data over to a competitor could make muni broadband services think twice about asking for federal help.
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