Rural Tennesseans Limited in Internet Choices

Jamie McGee, jmcgee@tennessean.com
Tullahoma, Tennessee

Tullahoma, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s usually between the 10th and the 15th day of the month when Clifton and Joanna Miller’s satellite Internet account hits its data cap. Clifton, a lawyer, and Joanna, a sixth-grade math teacher, are unable to work from home. Their 16-year-old daughter, who depends on access for homework, takes a laptop to her grandmother’s house nearby to complete her assignments until a new month begins.

The Millers’ house is less than a mile from Tullahoma‘s city limit, but under state law, the Tullahoma Utilities Board cannot extend its high-speed fiber Internet network outside its electric service footprint. They would settle for basic broadband from other providers, but those companies — AT&T and Charter Communications — don’t reach his neighborhood. Continue reading

GOP lawmakers: Challenge FCC ruling on broadband in Tenn.

Chattanooga, Tennessee from Lookout Mountain.

Chattanooga, Tennessee from Lookout Mountain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Federal Communication Commission ruled last week that cities like Chattanooga may expand their municipal broadband service, but Tennessee officials who oppose the decision are lining up to block the move.

On Tuesday Republican state lawmakers led by Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin urged state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to file a lawsuit challenging the decision as “a violation of state sovereignty.” Continue reading

Tom Wheeler’s Other Web Takeover

Optic fiber

Optic fiber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler plans to seize regulatory control over the Internet by declaring private broadband carriers to be public utilities. Less well known is that he also wants to usurp state authority to regulate municipal broadband networks.

Local governments are forever seeking opportunities to diversify their, er, investments in sports stadiums, convention centers and such. Many lately have been getting into broadband. Municipalities have built some 180 fiber-optic networks in addition to about 75 cable services. Most operate as de facto public utilities with an implicit, if not explicit, taxpayer backstop. Continue reading

Tennessee’s Municipal Electric Systems Asking Legislature To Remove Broadband Restrictions

The Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association (TMEPA) is seeking to end Tennessee’s constraint on municipal electric broadband “so that communities can choose their internet providers and to give more Tennesseans access to the fastest broadband speeds in the country.”

TMEPA consists of the state’s 60 municipal systems which serve 2.1 million homes and businesses, or 70 percent of Tennessee’s electric customers.   TMEPA is supporting legislation (SB1134 HB1303) that removes the current limitation on municipal electric broadband providers that restricts broadband service to just its electric service territory.  This change in the law would allow municipal electric broadband to expand to more areas where it is needed if those communities want it, the group said.  Continue reading

Arlington to make its high-speed fiber network available to businesses, federal agencies

Crystal City

Crystal City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arlington will make its high-speed fiber network accessible to businesses, federal agencies and other organizations later this year as part of an economic development initiative unanimously approved by the Arlington County Board on Saturday.

Arlington will license access to a 10-mile dark fiber line traversing economic centers — including the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, Glebe Road, Columbia Pike and Crystal City — that it will own and maintain. It will be an extension of an existing fiber network the county uses to connect municipal buildings and operate things like traffic signals. Continue reading

Muni Nets Pan Title II

By: John Eggerton

Some of the municipal broadband nets the Obama administration is keen on giving a boost have asked the Federal Communications Commission not to apply Title II regulations for a start.

In a Feb. 10 letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, more than three dozen of those said the balance of power is in favor of the edge providers, like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, which are not subject to the new rules beyond being able to complain about the conduct of Internet service providers, not smaller operators. Continue reading

Grand Junction to Vote on Broadband Improvement

By: Lindsey Pallares

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The complaints are many and the options are few for city and county leaders looking to improve broadband internet across the Valley.

The City of Grand Junction will be the first of the Mesa County municipalities to attempt to regain their negotiating power with broadband internet service providers.

It’s been 10 years since Senate Bill 152 went into effect, taking away the power of city and county leaders to work with internet companies or share their broadband with their residents. Continue reading