Chattanooga Mayor Says City's Gigabit Network (Which Comcast Tried To Kill) To Thank For City's Revival

from the get-the-hell-out-of-the-way dept

While hardline free marketeers and incumbent ISPs often try to paint city-owned broadband networks as the pinnacle of government-sponsored disaster, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke this week credited the city utility's gigabit broadband service as a major contributing factor for the city's re-invention. The Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB) is a city-owned utility that offers broadband speeds up to 10 Gbps to locals; a recent Consumer Reports survey noting that outside of Google Fiber, EPB has the only truly positive consumer satisfaction ratings among the 30 national ISPs ranked by the magazine:
"The results were ugly for value, too, with 28 of the 30 TV service providers earning our lowest score. The two exceptions—municipal broadband company EPB Fiber Optics-Chattanooga and Google Fiber—each earned high scores from the survey respondents. Both services offer super-fast 1-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) speeds. EPB Fiber Optics-Chattanooga ranked highest in the survey for overall satisfaction, edging out Google Fiber and cable company Armstrong."
In areas where the private market has failed, public or public/private partnerships have proven to be an effective way (if designed and funded properly) in shoring up coverage gaps for what has become an essential utility. Berke this week stated that by doing what local incumbent broadband providers refused to (aka give a damn), the city has been able to attract startups, lower the city's unemployment rate, and change the city's reputation for the better. And while not all of that is solely thanks to broadband, Berke makes it very clear that EPB was a huge part of it:
"It changed our conceptions of who we are and what is possible,” Berke said. “Before we had never thought of ourselves as a technology city."...Downtown has doubled its residents and landlords often advertise gigabit speeds that are included in monthly rents.

“It’s an explosion of growth in our technology sector,” he said. “That has sparked not only this (downtown) living but restaurants and bars and music and the quality of life that truly makes a city interesting, cool, hip, vibrant and energetic."
But if you've been playing along at home, regional incumbents like AT&T and Comcast almost kept EPB's network from ever being built. In 2008 Comcast unsuccessfully sued EPB to prevent the city's plan from taking root. AT&T and Comcast are also behind a state law preventing EPB from expanding, one of nineteen such laws lobbied for by incumbent ISPs to maintain the apathetic broadband status quo.

We've noted how state leaders (like Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, a former AT&T executive) have rushed to the defense of the state's broadband duopoly and their protectionist law. The pretense usually involves these politicians insisting they're just trying to protect taxpayers from themselves, ignoring the fact that letting AT&T and Comcast lawyers literally writing bad state telecom law has resulted in Tennessee being one of the least connected states in the nation.

Tennessee's fealty to regional duopolists recently bubbled over when EPB successfully petitioned the FCC to intervene on their behalf. The FCC is currently in court trying to argue that two such laws -- in both Tennessee and North Carolina -- run in stark contrast to the FCC's stated mission of ensuring even and timely broadband deployment. The FCC hopes that the case sets a legal precedent, resulting in the elimination of similar laws (many of which ban or hinder even public/private partnerships like Google Fiber) falling like dominoes.

But here too loyal Tennessee protectors of broadband sector dysfunction like Marsha Blackburn have tried to argue the FCC is violating state law -- by telling the state which giant corporations can or can't buy protectionist legislation. It's all part of a massive joke that has repeated itself in state after state, where companies like AT&T and Comcast have such a stranglehold over the legislative process, they've effectively codified shitty, uncompetitive broadband into law.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Jun 2016 @ 10:54am

    It is nice to see elected officials so cheaply purchased and handing even more money to companies while actively harming those they allegedly represent.

    People joke about how we are in the future and why don't we have flying cars yet. Perhaps the real reason we've made so little progress to what could be, is the fealty of our officials to those who pay them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 11:19am

      Re:

      Perhaps?

      It's a fact. We are our own greatest enemies and irrational fear combined with irrational greed hurts us a lot. We spend far more time talking about what a politician is going to do for us rather than talking about how a politician plans to clean up corruption.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Malcolm Reynolds, 16 Jun 2016 @ 11:01am

    burden

    I can see you're politicians aren't over burdened with an abundance of ethics and morals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 11:02am

    Purposely keeping citizens in the dark so they can exploit them more easily. Only in a corrupt state

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 1:34pm

      Re:

      To be fair, the citizens make it absurdly easy for the politicians to keep them in the dark.

      _none_ of this is secret. Most people just can't be bothered to look.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2016 @ 2:09am

        Re: Re:

        A correction, most people are so busy making a living, raising kids etc. that they do not have time to look.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 11:06am

    "Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, a former AT&T executive"

    The perfect first name to summarize this representative's actions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 11:12am

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 3:15pm

    Define "failed"

    In areas where the private market has failed...

    That all depends on how you define "failed", doesn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 4:03pm

    with the true facts now on hand, why are those politicians who still bat for Comcast and others not taken to task over what they do, ie, continuously condemn the cities that bring their own broadband into play and equally as continuously, bring in new laws that try to screw those cities and back the incumbents, when they know what they are doing is wrong and underhanded? i appreciate that members of Congress are extremely powerful people but surely even they shouldn't be above the law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2016 @ 6:13pm

    My folks live in Bradley County, adjacent to Hamilton County where EPB operates. Local and state politicians have vigorously opposed EPB expanding to their area despite horrible, expensive service from legacy cable and telephone companies. I'm going to advise them to set up a crowdfunding campaign to pay off local and state politicians the way the cable/telcos do. Any recommendations about what crowdfunding site might be amenable to funding flagrant bribery as a symbolic statement, or do I have to create my own?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jim, 17 Jun 2016 @ 6:05am

    But:

    I hate to disagree, or agree. It's not a lack of time, amount of kids, it's a lack of choices. All established parties have one agenda. To gather money to elect a candidate. Who do you get the money from? What agenda do the voters have? What agenda do those who pay for the election have? Is the better question.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 17 Jun 2016 @ 12:02pm

    So it means that when service providers get in to actually compete they tend to actually deliver quality. Go figure, this competition thing seems to be awesome.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.