Big US ISPs Roll Out Push Polling to Stop Cheap Internet

There’s been some dramatic developments in the Greenlight project happening in North Carolina. Essentially, the big US ISPs are doing everything in their power including lobbying the state to make it illegal to set up a superior ISP in the area. Now, reports are coming in that say that the big US ISPs are using push polling over the phones to get customers to side with legislation that would kill faster and cheaper broadband.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It’s a staple in every conspiracy theory against a mega corporation. A mega company that has overwhelming power in a set market place locking away any kind of innovation that would pose a threat to its business model. Right now, it’s happening with high speed internet.

For those that have missed this controversy, Daily Tech has a very nice round-up of the big controversy surrounding government initiated broadband. In a nutshell, a city in North Carolina got tired of slow internet for prices that have gone through the roof and getting even more expensive. So, the city took matters in their own hands and rolled out fibre optic cables throughout the city.

The service, currently named Greenlight Inc., approached the Time Warner Cable and Embarq, proposing they use the infrastructure for a more reliable and faster internet connection for a cheaper price. The big cable companies refused, so the government was left with all this infrastructure with no support from the big telecom companies. After doing some research, the government found out that the service would be extremely cheap to run and would give the government huge profits. So, they decided to run Greenlight Inc. themselves.

Unfortunately for Greenlight Inc., Embarq and Time Warner Cable found out about this and realized that they would be competing against an ISP that was faster, more reliable and cheaper. So, the ISPs went to the North Carolina state senate and lobbied for legislation that would effectively either cripple or ban the service all together.

Recently legislation was tabled in the state government. Senate bill 1004 and House Bill 1252 which are both dubbed “Level the playing field”. Unsurprisingly, the city is reacting to try and stop the legislation. Among other things, they started their own blog to raise awareness of the issue.

Now, it seems that there is a report on there that says that the big ISPs are using push polling to gain support of H1252 in the city.

“Phones are ringing in Wilson. There’s a new poll about HB 1252 that is apparently designed with leading questions about municipal broadband.” Writes Brian, the writer of the blog. He continues, “It includes questions that, as a friend put it, can’t possibly be answered correctly without siding with certain cable and or telco providers.”

Further from the blog posting:

I’m guessing a couple of the industry execs will use it this week to convince lawmakers that Wilson citizens don’t need their system.

The same poll, or a similar one, has also popped up in Salibury. This weekend, several people there reported getting phone polls that led them to the same conclusion about their new network. Salisbury is network now that is similar to Wilson’s.

One poll. Two cities. One intended result.

It seems that ISPs are working around the clock to maintain the status quo – and their monopolies.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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