One of your Intrepid El Reg Commentards is on the scene..
... and does business all over east Tennessee. A few observations from under the ground:
There are three competing ISPs in east TN and bid for exclusive areas of operation - AT&T, Comcast, and Charter. Only AT&T can compete with Comcast for residential/business customers in that area, with Charter being a leased/feels good on paper, poor 'competition' of leased lines/unwanted areas. Of the three, AT&T's aging infrastructure prevents good dependable service (although they have begun building a fiber loop to Athens, my base of operations). Comcast is the raging monster in local/state government - gives away connectivity to gov offices and certain employees, essentially owns area contracts in perpetuity. Between AT&T pushing VOIP & killing fax lines and Comcast's fast as hell up/down crap service (which includes VOIP) - I have some interesting days now and again.
Point is, the current situation sucketh mightily - I have been waiting for a port to open up on AT&T's ancient DSLAM at my house for 7 years, not enough ports and it seems those same ports are willed down from family generation to family generation out here. All three commercial players have issues with uptime, performance, and general stupidity.
In Chattanooga, I fought personally with both Comcast and AT&T over a business WAN that connected Athens to Knoxville and Chattanooga, had one hell of a time keeping links up in Chattanooga until EPB ran their fiber loops all over the city. Once we had the client in question up on EPB's network - not one lick of trouble from that link in the past year. Athens and Knoxville? Minimum once a week outage, either VOIP or connectivity, makes me crazy.
The Politics: TN Gov Bill Haslam's family is Oprah rich, they happen to own Flying J truckstops all over the US (recently got nailed by Feds for overcharging truckers fyi) and both Comcast/AT&T have deep pockets - Comcast is a freaking monster and AT&T is busy recreating the mega AT&T of old. Let's just say all of them scratch each others' backs, ok? Small town politics are filled with folks who continue to buy from the same local company their grandpappy bought from, no matter they're being overcharged, cuz 'that's where great great great great grandpa Miles 'JimBob' Standish the .01 bought their first musket'. I shit thee not, look up 'The Battle of Athens', it's still fought here today. However, if you get in with them, life is golden and there will be business/profit.
Trying to explain the ins and outs of this lawsuit is difficult, so many parameters I'd have to sit with a speadsheet for a few months just to makes sense of it, it's very complicated. Definitely not a two-sided issue like what folks are talking about here, too many players, agendas, family ties, and the fine old tradition of the Southern Fsck You*.
*term wife and I coined - a situation where a southern gentleman/woman will seemingly praise someone and that someone doesn't realize they've been mortally insulted days/months/years later. It's an art, let me tell you.