Small America Vs. Big Internet



When we met grant goings a few months ago he was holding a copy of the local newspaper and he was so proud of the story on the front page. It was about this new kind of municipal uber system in his town. So for like a Buck Fifty. You can call come pick you up. Take you to where you're going. We're super excited. Grandpa is a total wonderful civics nerd and for the past fifteen years. He's been the city manager of Wilson North Carolina. The city of Wilson has a population of about fifty thousand people. It's downtown is full of these giant old brick warehouses that used to be filled with tobacco. But now there's a microbrewery barbecue restaurants. This city has managed to transform itself into a manufacturing town they attracted bridgestone tyres and Merck pharmaceuticals but they were starting to worry about keeping those businesses because by the time grant got to Wilson in the mid two thousands. The city had a problem. It's Internet. They're hearing from businesses that the Internet not so great and maybe worse they were also hearing from the little league parents facilities would go down frequently and so someone will be halfway through registry the kid there would be some type of breaking service. They'd have to start. All over again. Crashed Little League registration in two thousand and five. I mean come on in other parts of the country. People were discovering nickelback online. Wire with no problem. The Internet could be so much better so grand goings called a meeting with the local Internet provider. Time Warner Cable and the local telephone company and then we sat down and we basically had a few Ask so number one was. We asked them to heavily. Invest in upgrading. The system we. We'd sort of felt like we knew that answer no interest. Yeah the answer was no time Warner cable. Now Charter didn't agree to an interview for this story but you can understand their answer. They're like. Why would the existing company invest a ton of money? Just to wind up with the same customers. They already have. It's a questionable business decision at best. But that's okay no problem. Gran had prepared option number to partner with us. What if Wilson pays to build the top of the line Internet infrastructure fiber optic cables? Then Time Warner could offer their service over these super fast lines town had built. The answer to that question was where the second largest cable provider in the country. Why would we partner with you? Which only left option number three? The city would do it alone. Grant told Time Warner fine. We'RE GOING TO BUILD. And run our own fiber optic network and that's when the laughing started and they very quickly exited after that they literally laughed at you in your office absolutely. Yes and have admitted that did that like light. A fire for you did for me. That's the day that you said it's on it's hello and welcome to planet money. Kenny Malone and I'm Wilson Fair no relation to the city of Wilson and not only would time Warner cable laugh in the city of Wilson's face. They would actively fight to stop the city from building. Faster Internet it is a fight that has now spread to dozens of other states. We started reporting the story before the pandemic. But it's more relevant than ever because this is a big part of the reason that it's very hard to move to little towns around the country and make a living working remotely

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