Sunday, April 26, 2009
Hawaii pushes on with cable deregulation as Time Warner cuts off RoadRunner users in Austin
by Larry Geller
Update: The czar may be dead… line of flight posted a comment to this article (thank you!) pointing out to me that all the czar language had been taken out of HB984 by Sen. Fukunaga in a floor amendment. I missed that version. Of course, everything depends on what comes out of the conference committee, but since HB984 was (as far as I know) the only remaining czar bill, maybe indeed the czar threat is gone. Sen. Fukunaga is also chair of the Senate conference committee, a good sign. Thanks also to Sen. Fukunaga, of course.
Hey, for all of you who emailed, called or wrote your senators, thank you all! Maybe that did the trick. Maybe your collective action killed the czar.
So I’ve had to shred most of this post, which is embarrassing, but I’m glad to do it.
HB984 contains the language creating a communications “czar” with exemptions and powers taken away from the Public Utilities Commission. Its contents were gutted and replaced with the contents of SB1680 . So the deregulation of Hawaii’s communication services including broadband internet access continues to move towards reality.
For awhile it looked as though Time Warner had abandoned its plan to impose tiered pricing that would penalize RoadRunner users who used more bandwidth than others. In other words, if you download too many TV programs or something like that, they were to charge more. But they gave that up.
Instead, it seems, they are unceremoniously cutting off high-bandwidth users. There are a couple of stories (here and here) out of Austin Texas, reporting one user’s experience.
Oceanic Time Warner could do the same in Hawaii. In fact, under the new czar, they could potentially do whatever they wanted. The proposed new law has no provision for net neutrality. Far from “positioning Hawaii for global competitiveness in the twenty-first century” as the bill purports to do, we could simply put ourselves on the back burner of internet usage altogether.
Larry, you might want to look at HB984 in its current iteration. Looks like Fukunaga did a floor amendment on third reading deleting the bill that was once looked like SB1680 and inserted in its place a bill only for the benefit of Connect Nation's needs.
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