AT&T, cable lobbying drive Chattanooga’s EPB to shelve network expansion bill

Market Square in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, ...

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By Sean Buckley

EPB, the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based service provider known for its 1 Gbps service, and its supporters have decided to put on mothballs a new bill that would enable municipal broadband operators to expand outside of their service areas.

If the “Broadband Infrastructure for Regional Economic Development Act of 2011″ bill had gone through, municipal-run broadband providers like EPB would have been able to extend service up to 30 miles outside their service areas. One of EPB’s motivating factors to have the bill was to bring service to Bradley County, where Amazon.com is building a second distribution center.

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, the bill’s main sponsor, moved to take the bill “off notice” following a strong lobbying effort by both AT&T (NYSE: T) and their sometimes necessary ally, the cable industry.

Harold DePriest, EPB President and CEO, said that they “would like to see the bill pass, but I think Gerald was dealing with the reality of the difficulty of moving the bill through the committee at this point in time,” he said Friday, adding that “We will be back.”

As seen in other states, municipal broadband in Tennessee has been a divisive issue.

While Depriest said they have seen greater job creation since EPB’s Fiber to the X network was built, critics like Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, said municipal cable providers “are losing tremendous amounts of money” that is “coming out of the taxpayers’ pocket.”

For more:
- Times Free Press has this article

About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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