Wide Awake Wilson

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I am from Wilson, North Carolina – a fairly small town of around 50,000 people that is about 40 miles east of Raleigh. Although many people have never heard of it Wilson is was once the tobacco capital of the world (yes, the world), the birthplace of the bank BB&T, home of both Parker’s and Bill’s barbeque.

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But more importantly (in the context of this blog), Wilson is one of the few counties in the state that created their own, independent, cable and internet service, Greenlight. This is somewhat of an anomaly because shortly after Greenlight was created, North Carolina made these independent services illegal. However, much to the delight of its users, Greenlight was grandfathered in and still provides internet to many Wilsonians.

My family has yet to make the switch to Greenlight, but everybody I know who has has been much happier than they ever were with Time Warner Cable. My boyfriend had Greenlight and he was always thrilled with the service they provided. In the several years that he had the services, he had only a couple of problems. This is a big difference from my TWC experience, where problems happen every few months.

While the service is by no means new, it has been in the spotlight this week because the FCC agreed to hear the “City of Wilson’s petition today calling for it to override North Carolina’s law against municipal networks” on Thursday. This was an effort to over-turn a 2011 law that imposed numerous conditions that effectively prevented Wilson from expanding Greenlight service into neighboring counties, even if requested.

And by a 3-2 vote by the FCC it was successfully overturned.

While this is a big win for Wilson, it is also very telling as to what the FCC will do when it votes on net neutrality, which is coming up very soon. By allowing Wilson’s Greenlight to have more freedom to grow their business, it seems like the FCC is definitely thinking with a pro-net neutrality mindset.

While this is all speculation and nobody will know until the vote happens, it is a very interesting and precedent-setting vote.It’s fun to see my hometown playing such a big role in the decision making process of the future of the Internet.

Emma vanBree

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