The court made the correct decision to make this a local or states-right issue. This article definitely takes the position that government should compete with private enterprise, but it fails to mention that the government cannot compete fairly with private enterprise. The government does not play on the same playing field as private enterprise because they have taxes and regulations to content. Also the article does not point out the majority of broadband efforts to date have been failures leaving bondholders and taxpayers holding the bag with the debt.
Chattanooga may be the poster child of a municipal broadband success but UTOPIA is the poster child of multiple failures. Also, Chattanooga may not be the success story that all are touting but that is the subject of another post.
English: Availability of 4 Mbps-Capable Broadband Networks in the United States by County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yesterday evening saw the launch of Next Century Cities, a US bipartisan, city-to-city initiative dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all communities. The 32 cities involved and their elected leaders are collaborating as they recognise the importance of using gigabit-level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and generally give residents new opportunities.
During the launch in Santa Monica, the mayors of Lafayette, Louisiana, and Chattanooga, Tennessee – both of whom preside over community gigabit cities – spoke at length about the difficulties they had to overcome in order to reap the rewards of having city-wide ultra-high speed broadband available to all at affordable prices. Continue reading
Although I agree with Rep. Blackburn that government involvement in communications is a states’ rights issue, I find it rather ironic that she is going about it with a federal law. I have applauded Chairman Wheeler’s support of allowing municipalities to take control of their broadband destiny even though I do not believe that they should be in the communications services business. I do not believe that the FCC has the authority to trump state law in saying that states cannot pass laws prohibiting cities from building and operating broadband networks. This fact is why I am deeply suspicious of Rep. Blackburn’s bill.
The LightReading article below is a good synopsis of the situation without the typical editorializing I have seen in many other publications. I agree that there should be no state laws prohibiting local governments from determining their broadband destiny, but I do not believe that they should become a service provider like so many of them attempt. The communications’ industry moves much quicker than electric or water utilities, and the market works better when there are more competitors not one that can operate with an unfair advantage. I do support local governments building and selling the infrastructure though.
My favorite recent headline about the ongoing legislative brouhaha over municipal networks is this one, from a publication called The Escapist: “Tenn. Congresswoman Valiantly Protects ISPs from Evil Municipal Broadband.”
That sarcasm is a reference to an amendment attached by US House of Representatives Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to the fiscal 2015 Financial Services appropriations bill that would keep regulators from modifying state laws prohibiting municipalities from building and operating broadband networks. The amendment was approved 223-200 in the House last week, but a final version of the bill must still be passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama to become law.
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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.
Mid-size southern city will likely be the first in the country to break the one gigabit speed barrier here in the US.
When you’re thinking of ultra-high speed Internet and its expected rollout across the country, I’m sure the last place you’d probably name is Chattanooga, Tennessee. However if all goes right, the mid-sized southern city will likely be the first in the country to break the one gigabit speed barrier here in the US.