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
Downtown of Chattanooga, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When it comes to municipal broadband successes, Chattanooga, Tenn., may not be the best example to cite in support of allowing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to preempt state laws that ban or restrict competition from community broadband, according to a recent report published by the Phoenix Center. Chief economist George S. Ford, who authored the report, says this perspective, which has been touted by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the White House, does not account for Chattanooga’s unique circumstances.
Ford says the Chattanooga experience is not easily replicated elsewhere. Chattanooga‘s broadband system is constructed and maintained by the city’s municipal electric utility, which benefitted from $229 million in revenue bonds and a $50 million construction loan. Only 14 percent of Americans are served by government-owned electric utilities, usually present in rural markets where there are very high network deployment costs. Continue reading
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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.
Chattanooga has become the first U.S. city to provide blazing-fast Internet — with download speeds 20 times faster than anything now offered to big business users in Nashville or anywhere else, for that matter.
The question now is whether Chattanooga’s high-tech fiber-optic system puts Music City behind in the race for new jobs.