back to article Plucky cable billionaires defeat menace of small-town broadband

The city of Chattanooga in Tennessee has been told it cannot expand its broadband service to other counties. The state's legislature has effectively canned a bill that would have allowed Chattanooga's municipal broadband service into neighboring Hamilton and Bradley counties. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Devil

    Kent Brockman.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWdfRRtAs3o

  2. ma1010 Silver badge
    Devil

    The State of Tennessee Legislature

    One of the finest legislatures money can buy.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: The State of Tennessee Legislature

      Indeed, and once bought, they stay bought.

      1. cd

        Re: The State of Tennessee Legislature

        In TN it's a way to have shoes. Most residents there do not.

      2. julian.smith

        Re: The State of Tennessee Legislature

        "once bought, they stay bought."

        The definition of an honest politician.

      3. keith_w

        Re: The State of Tennessee Legislature

        Must be honest politicians.

  3. Alan Sharkey

    Confused

    So, the cable company can't (or won't) put decent comms in - and they'll block anyone who wants to give it a go.

    How does that work then?

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Confused

      As ma1010 indicated above, it's probably the members of the State Congress who get funding from AT&T who voted against the bill.

      That's how US politics works, you get the legislation you pay for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Confused

        And people wonder how anti-politics types like Trump can be so popular despite acting like clowns...

        1. tacitust

          Re: Confused

          Trump, anti-politics? He's been playing the political game all his life. He's benefited to the tune of hundreds of millions from the current system.

        2. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: Confused

          And yet, Trump is exactly the kind of asshole who would be glad to see this bid defeated, if he were in the telecomms business...

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: How does that work then?

      It doesn't.

      Isn't this what happened in a smaller scale in rural UK when BT refused to deliver high-speed lines in the late 90s?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How does that work then?

        "Isn't this what happened in a smaller scale in rural UK when BT refused to deliver high-speed lines in the late 90s?"

        Not really - I don't think they blocked anyone else from doing it, which is what this article is about.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Confused

      How does that work then?

      Murica! That's how! Fuck yeah!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Confused

      The answer comes in brown envelopes

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Confused

        I bet they could have just stuck the cables in the damn ground with the amount they've spent on trying to stop this over the years.

        1. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: Confused

          Oh, unquestionably.

          But it's not about providing better service to underserved populations, it's about power and control.

    5. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Confused

      It is twofold. Part people who are paid off by industry lobbyists, and part "conservatives" who think government has no role in the private sector.

      The problem is that the government already has a role in the broadband market, through stuff like making utility right of way available or not available, granting cable companies exclusive franchises which guarantee there is only one cable company in town (to add to the single phone company in town which exists because of what essentially amounts to state/federal franchises)

      People who claim to believe in the free market often don't understand that a free market only functions properly where perfect competition exists. That means there are no barriers to entry, erected either by government, limited resources, or economic barriers to entry (like needing a lot of money to start a fiber ISP in a city that size) When the market doesn't function properly there can be no free market - that's how you end up with monopolies that don't offer decent broadband because they don't have to since there is no one else to do so and take away their customers.

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    Hooray for the free market!

    Oh wait.

    Uh capitalism!

    Nope, that's not it.

    Corporate Communist Capitalism©®™

    Ah! That's it!

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Hooray for the free market!

      Well it clearly isn't a free market, is it? A free market has low barriers to entry and this is anything but.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hooray for the free market!

      I believe the term you're searching for is "Corportocracy".

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Hooray for the free market!

        Yes, but that's too short for today's buzz word bingo hipsters.

        After all, why use one word when more are always better! /sarcasm

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to work for EPB...

    FCC granted EPB (the Electric Power Board) the ability to expand their service area last year: https://epb.com/news/fcc-approves-epb%E2%80%99s-petition-tennessee-expansion . EPB have now effectively been blocked the expansion by the state although Washington DC (the Feds of all people!) said it was OK to go ahead.

    EPB initially installed fiber for their electric grid Intellirupters to talk to each other, not specifically to become an ISP. That was done later. Federal funds were part of the initial fiber layout due to the "green" aspect of updating the grid (electronic meters reporting back every 15 minutes so no more meter readers driving around, better tracking of electric usage, etc): http://www.sandc.com/products/switching-overhead-distribution/intellirupter-pulsecloser.asp

    Initially Comcast didn't have anything against the fiber install...until EPB decided to use the extra network bandwidth to become an ISP in 2009. Comcast then threatened EPB, to which EPB replied "we own the poles your cables are hanging on, so we'll charge you 10 cents per pole per day for the upkeep/replacement when damaged by fire/storm/car wreck/etc (somebody has to pay for a middle-of-the-night crew to dig a hole in the ground with specialized equipment, erect a new pole, string the electric across it, THEN let Comcast/AT&T come along behind them).

    Comcast backed down then, but obviously they've found some people they can buy at the state level and block further defections from Comcast around Chattanooga. Comcast has far greater on-demand TV services, but when you can get a gigabit up/down to your home for $69.99/mo, local tech support, paid to a public utility, which would you choose?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I used to work for EPB...

      Thanks AC. Good info there.

  6. sundog

    It works like this -

    The craptastic cable companies give lots of money in "Campaign Funds" to the politicians. The politicians don't vote for items that go against what the cable companies would like to happen.

    There's a fancy name for it when they get caught, too. Graft. Because it's impossible to conceive that a law-abiding-god-fearing-public-serving elected official would do anything as shameful as take a bribe....

    It's stories like this one, where it's dead plain that the elected officials were bribed, that makes me ashamed to be American. Even more embarrassed to admit that I was born in Tennessee, albeit not in Chattanooga. Thankfully.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      re FIFA

      Haven't FIFA been operating this self same, or very similar, scheme for a number of years?

      And yet it's the USian Governement at the forefront of prosecutions for this conduct which they now call bribery.

      Why not just use the athletics model, popular in the NW i believe, where those Veeple who go "lording" it about do so as "Ambassadors".

      With no knowledge whatsoever, no siree, of any wrongdoing or malinfluence.

    2. julian.smith

      "It's stories like this one, where it's dead plain that the elected officials were bribed, that makes me ashamed to be American"

      There are plenty of other reasons to be ashamed to be American!

  7. Tejekion

    But what they CAN do is liscense the Tech to other Counties at a nominal fee

    What can the shitcos do about it then? It would be a contractual agreemenet between counties,

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: But what they CAN do is liscense the Tech to other Counties at a nominal fee

      "Licensing" doesn't install the fiber in the ground in those neighboring counties.

  8. WereWoof
    Joke

    The Chatanooga choo choo has been derailed.

  9. Efros

    And...

    The fix is in.

    Wonderful to see that graft still has its place.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well then, when I can't take it any more here in Taxachusetts, I certainly won't be moving to Tennessee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It ain't just Tennessee... pretty much the same sort of thing is happening in Western Massachusetts. I live in one of the 44 towns that are in the "underserved" category and no ISP is willing to invest in the last-mile connection. A lot of work went into organizing the towns into a cooperative called WiredWest and developing a viable plan to set up a regional ISP. After all the towns had approved the deal, the state agency (MBI) that needed to release the portion of the lawmaker-approved state funds, backed out based on a report written by a consultancy they hired. The report said that the towns should "outsource" the management of the ISP. The consultancy that wrote the report....WiPro! (well known to us in the IT industry for outsourcing contracts.)

      The full story can be found here:

      http://muninetworks.org/content/shoot-out-over-wiredwest-mbi-pulls-funding-massachusetts-saga

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