back to article Tennessee sues FCC: Giving cities free rein to provide their own broadband is 'unlawful'

The US state of Tennessee is suing the FCC after the regulator declared that cities should be free to build their own municipal-owned broadband networks. The Volunteer State wants to overturn that ruling, made in February, arguing the decision goes against heavy restrictions placed on government-owned organizations that …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    Flame

    I can understand the general premise of not spending public money to directly compete with the private sector. But if the private sector isn't delivering the goods, then why can't the public purse step in?

    In the UK, the government has provided money to ensure high speed broadband reaches more people than would happen if it was left to BT*.

    *I'm not going to get into the debate over whether BT should have been paid for this due to their history.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I get the impression this is more about "state" vs "federal" turf war than anything to do with providing good and competitive internet to the good citizens.

      1. asdf

        >get the impression this is more about "state" vs "federal"

        Yeah I guess Tennessee needs to have its ass handed to it again to remember which one out ranks the other.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > ..remember which one out ranks the other.

          It's not a chain of command like the military, it's like a tug-of-war with many little players and one big player, and they can all change sides whenever they like. If Tennessee gets enough support from other states, it creates a more even contest, something that almost never happens in a military context.

      2. Just An Engineer

        Actually

        Actually it is about the paymasters not wanting any competition and finding someone to pay for the lawsuit. TN AG is probably doing the bidding of the "broadband providers" under the umbrella of State vs Federal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I can understand the general premise of not spending public money to directly compete with the private sector."

      But it's _ALL_ tax payer money, the wording makes it sound like the money magically appears and is to be forced to banks accounts of MegaCorp ISPs. It doesn't take much to imagine that Comcast or Time Warner wrote this complaint up and Tennessee just put their stamp on it. Remember when that senator was caught doing just that when someone exposed the latest edits in a .doc created by Microsoft Word? Exactly that.

      Tennessee was a major slaving state run by companies in the 2000's 1800's, not much will change there.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Also the FCC has only said that municipalities can run their own Wi-Fi networks, it hasn't said that they must.

      Then it is up to the local municipality and the whatever bureaucratic overlords they have to work out the fine print.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tennessee is famous

      Tennessee is famous for it's politicians taking bribes. That's pretty much all one needs to know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tennessee is famous

        Well, it IS the home state of Al Gore...

  2. The Nazz

    If the losses from running a poor commercial service

    will be shouldered by the tax paying public anyway, then why can't the taxpaying public pay for the service through City Hall in the first place?

  3. Ole Juul

    Bogus argument

    If private business is not providing the service, and indeed is unwilling to do so, then there is no loss to them. In fact they can't logically argue that there is even any competition. The pertinent argument here is that the telcos are causing an economic loss to both business and society by not providing an adequate essential service in the first place. Their argument that there is no money in it for them, is completely irrelevant.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Bogus argument

      No, the pertinent argument here, the one Tennessee will make in court, is that the FCC =/= Congress and therefore has no authority to override the State.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Bogus argument

        The FCC will just counter their authority is delegated to them BY Congress through the Telecommunications Acts. Unless Tennessee can cite where it's the purview of Congress ALONE, that argument won't stand.

  4. skeptical i
    FAIL

    "Don't tread on me" applies to ME, not you.

    I love how many 'Merkin states get their panties in a wad about "federal interference" yet happily inflict their own brands of interference on their respective municipalities. Pot, kettle.

    1. thomas k.

      Re: "Don't tread on me" applies to ME, not you.

      Not to mention that these same states are always the first in line to suckle at the Federal teat when it comes to grabbing Federal dollars.

      And let's not forget that Tennesseans, in particular, would still be dependent on candle-light after the sun went down if it weren't for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_Valley_Authority

      from the 3rd paragraph down:

      "During the 1920s, Americans began to support the idea of public ownership of utilities, particularly hydroelectric power facilities. Many believed privately owned power companies were charging too much for power, did not employ fair operating practices, and were subject to abuse by their owners (utility holding companies), at the expense of consumers."

      Sound familiar?

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: "Don't tread on me" applies to ME, not you. @Thomas K.

        Are you really that ignorant to say that?

        Do you even know how many small towns and farms were basically stolen by the TVA to put up those dams? That they literally trampled on the rights of the property owners?

        Considering you folks haven't got a clue when it comes to Americian politics, geography, States rights, the Constitution or anything else topical; so as much as you can't restrain yourself you might try learning what actually happened before you make lame statements like that.

        BTW, these "same States" are the last to want the federal government to be involved (especially the southern ones) in ANYTHING. Ever hear of "revenuers"?

        Dependent on candle light and happy to still own their family property, free from State or Federal interference would be more like it for those Tennesseeans that got ripped off by their own state goverment.

        To add insult to injury you quote unsubstantiated opinion and conjecture from wikipedia as your source. Wikipedia is a very unreliable source in many cases, especially that one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Don't tread on me" applies to ME, not you. @Dan Paul

          "BTW, these "same States" are the last to want the federal government to be involved (especially the southern ones) in ANYTHING. Ever hear of "revenuers"?"

          Ah, the typical Southern, repeated ad nauseum ignorant meme of "We're independent! We're for FREEDOM!" Save it for people who actually don't know what they are talking about.

          You want FACTS? Here's FACTS about your so-called 'independent' states of [our] union:

          www.bloomberg.com/infographics/2014-05-12/income-inequality-map.html

          Don't go read that fact map, the reality will only make you weep in your own foolishness. Most of Tennessee has 15-20% of its population living below the poverty level, with that same 15-20% getting government food stamps (government food subsidies).

          And look who they vote for. Irony, thy name is America!

          Proof that the American public will indeed vote against their own best interests, based on propaganda. Get told that you are more 'independent' in your Southern pride, believe it against all reality.

    2. fishbone

      Re: "Don't tread on me" applies to ME, not you.

      Not so much about federal interference as keeping state sanctioned monopolies in order. How else can the hicks in state governments prosper?

    3. Jaybus

      Re: "Don't tread on me" applies to ME, not you.

      Hmmm. It is not hard to understand that the Tennessee state government might be more aligned with the needs of their rather small population than is the federal government governing 300 million from hundreds of miles away. State interference to federal interference is as frying pan to fire.

  5. Grikath

    Tennessee.....

    plus "Law"...

    Google it for a bit of light Friday Reading before our hopes for a BOFH get dashed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tennessee.....

      Ah, so Google finally added "Jibberish" to their translator.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Tennessee was one of the "states rights" states that culminated in the "Recent Unpleasentness" (aka American Civil War). I think they're taking this to a new extreme in that they (the state) wants to control what a city can and cannot do and not have the Federal Government interfere. On paper and 100 years ago, that might have worked, but given the interconnectedness of things, there are some areas the Feds have to dictate. I can't answer (INAL) on this issue, but I can see both arguments.

    Part of the current probem is that cities' did sign contracts giving the big corps control and a monopoly. Other cities' did set up their own ISP. Neither of which resulted in competition and many times, the cities have sold off their ISP to a commercial endeavor. I can see why the FCC should lose this one but with exceptions in that the rural or small city user will probably not get internet. They probably won't anyway if the city sells off the corp., however.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      It's better than that. The FCC (evil Feds) said that they can't prevent a state or town from building its own municipal network.

      Tennessee is arguing that the evil Feds MUST step in and prevent the states from doing this !

      1. Donn Bly

        No, Tennessee is saying that the FCC doesn't have the authority to regulate how a state governs its towns -- and they are right, the FCC doesn't. Congress may pass a law, which is then voted upon and approved by the representatives of the people - but the FCC is an appointed body without the power to usurp the power of the states to regulate their own cities.

        The FCC has the right to regulate interstate communication, but its right to regulate INTRA-state communication is rather limited. Being federal does not automatically make the more powerful, Unless it crosses a state line, they really don't have a leg to stand on.

        That being said, from what I understand the issue is that Tennessee has established territories in which a municipal utility can operate. Presumably this territory was defined as being an un-served or under-served area some time in the past. What Chattanooga wants to do is provide services outside of its territory, which Tennessee has regulations to prevent.

        What SHOULD happen is that Chattanooga should go the state regulators and ask them to designate the under-served areas as part of their territory, then they would be free to expand into it. Instead, they wanted to do an end-run around the laws and regulations under which they were created.

        The other problem is that they are an POWER company trying to provide communication services. They should have instead established a separate utility.

        I don't have a problem with municipalities establishing broadband networks. I get my own connection though one, and am VERY happy with they service I am getting. But they need to be done right.

        1. Hans 1

          >The FCC has the right to regulate interstate communication, but its right to regulate INTRA-state communication is rather limited.

          Internet is inter-continental, so international, so inter-state ... and, finally, intra-state. Tennessee should be allowed to block access of Chattanooga citizens to websites hosted in Tennessee if they so wish, however, as soon as it gets inter-state, international, inter-continental, Tennessee has JACK SHIT TO SAY and should STFU.

          Besides, the FCC only said they aught to be allowed to create a broadband service in their city ...

          1. Tom 13

            @Hans 1

            When you start with the wrong assumption, you cannot arrive at a correct conclusion. The FCC does not have the authority to regulate interstate commerce. Period. End of discussion.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          TN

          Some rural people do have a method of getting broadband. Cellular broadband. Sure it's a lot more expensive and extremely limited in terms of the amount of data you can use per month but if the local governments were able to deploy broadband just think of the customers that Verizon, AT&T, Sprint etc. would lose. In the end this is about protecting the interest of campaign contributors (the wireless carriers) not rural citizens. Verizon for one is "actively" letting their DSL lines wither away in most markets so that they can push customers to more expensive and more profitable wireless internet plans. Making sure those "markets" stay clear of local government provided broadband is in their interest.

          So in most places it's not anything at all to do with whether or not it's profitable to deploy wired (or fiber) broadband, it's about making sure those people have no other option but wireless.

          Politicians for sale......nothing new in America.

  7. ecofeco Silver badge

    Ah the The American South

    You really can't fix the American south's special flavor of stupid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah the The American South

      As opposed to the bland, tasteless stupidity found everywhere else.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah the The American South

      "You really can't fix the American south's special flavor of stupid."

      The rest of the world has been fighting it for 150 years now, no end in sight. They keep coming up with all sorts of twists to justify their thinking ("intelligent design" et al), making the rest of us shake our heads in wonderment of their self-delusional abilities.

      It is not as if all Southerners are bat-shiate crazy, far from it. Many are absolutely salt-of-the-earth, nicest people you can find; their problem is that they (constantly) let their crazy have center stage, out and proud. Openly embrace the fringe seems to be their motto, and if the "Fringe" actually represents the entrenched status quo, supporting the ideologies that are as well worn and comfortable as the proverbial home-knit sweater, the more the merrier. Don't upset the apple cart, son - starting from Jim Crow and moving forward.

      Being dragged into modern eras seems to be a historical habit with their truly entrenched ideologies, one wonders why so many are in constant fear of change. I have a personal opinion that it fundamentally religious-based - most Church teachings are indoctrinated to "Don't question, just believe", and therefore they naturally acquiesce to those perceived to be of a 'higher authority'. When your pa says something, when your preacher makes a point, when your political elite state a case...it must, therefore, be more "truthful" than any competing viewpoints. It worked before, it works, therefore it must always do so and don't even think of changing it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah the The American South

        > It is not as if all Southerners are bat-shiate crazy, far from it.

        Only the ones that disagree with you, right, AC?

    3. Dan Paul

      Re: Ah the The American South

      As opposed to fixing the particularly inane stupidity of most Europeans? Particularly the French?

  8. seacook
    Headmaster

    Pitchforks

    Appears that it is time for the pitch fork brigade to stick it to the state government and support the municipal bods. Anything better than pitchforks would be considered a terrorist attack.

  9. JLV
    Happy

    Good times, good times, they are a-coming.

    For lobbyists, that is.

    Having said that, one thing I would be very concerned with is a local government trying to launch some fancy ISP service, not having a clue and falling flat on its backside at taxpayers' expense.

    Not like IT cluster@*&! don't happen at higher levels of government, like state or federal.

    But the level of exposure per person can be pretty high if big losses are spread out on a narrow municipal base.

    I am pretty sure the answer to that is not a blanket legal prohibition however. Much as it may suit AT&T and sundry.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Good times, good times, they are a-coming.

      While there are reports of cities (mostly small, I think) having fielded ISPs, Provo, Utah had one that by my understanding worked out rather badly, and a consortium - "UTOPIA" - in the Salt Lake valley has not worked out too well either. Google took over Provo's and an Australian company is angling to take over UTOPIA. I'm fairly new to the area, but think the issues had to do with a combination of insufficient revenue for maintenance and upgrade (Provo) and unwillingness of some of the UTOPIA communities to make the initial investment.

      That said, if the Chattanooga voters want the city to run an ISP it should be up to them, but that really should be a Tennessee issue, as regulation of local telephone service, before 1984, was a state regulation issue for the 50 states. Except for the District of Columbia, cities are corporations established by the states.

      1. JLV

        Re: Good times, good times, they are a-coming.

        >if the Chattanooga voters want the city to run an ISP it should be up to them

        Totally agree. This whole make it illegal biz is about as justified as the Federal government being lobbied into not using its purchasing power to negotiate discounts on prescription drugs. I.e. any politician involved with passing/upholding this law should be strung up to lampposts by their testicles. Local cable monopolies by large corporations have not served voters well. Entrenching them in law is a cynical sham.

        However, that's not to say there are no risks with municipal governments stepping in. Harrisburg is near/at bankruptcy on a municipal incinerator mess. More local to me, the city of Nanaimo, a rather sleepy little fishing town on Vancouver Island launched a massive convention center. Ernst & Young had advised them to take up the opportunity in hosting conventions due to lack of capacity. Trouble is, E&Y's convention planning business unit was peddling that same advice snake oil all over North America. By the time it was near done, the developers for the matching downtown business hotel saw the writing on the wall - there was no shortage of capacity anymore. They pulled out of the hotel and now Nanaimo has a massive white elephant with insufficient lodging.

        By all means, let municipalities step in if there is a market failure. There is nothing wrong with competing with the private sector in that case. Indeed, one law I would pass is one forbidding predatory local discounts by Comcast & all after the fact.

        But there is a risk involved, both due to insufficient local expertise or to bad advice by specialized consultants fleecers. Me? I smell a golden opportunity for an Acc*nture Municipal ISP Business Unit ;-) to proffer "advice" for example.

        What I truly would like to see is effective planning and implementation support for municipalities taking this route - disseminate best practices, at low cost. Cheap broadband can boost an economy and improve living conditions, so a bit of enlightened philanthropy to help along, a la Gates Foundation would be great. Enough local successes should force cable companies to review their strategies.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: if the Chattanooga voters want the city to run an ISP

        On a philosophical basis only:

        IF the Chattanooga voters wanted it, and were willing to cover all the costs regardless of the outcome, you might have a point.

        HOWEVER, the integration of state and federal money transfers has completely annihilated any chance of that ever happening. Therefore the people of Tennessee have the right to circumscribe what the voters of Chattanooga can do with their money.

        On a Constitutional basis, Tennessee is correct and the FCC is wrong. If we had a non-politicized court system, SCOTUS would slap down the FCC so hard it would make El Reg commentard heads explode.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: if the Chattanooga voters want the city to run an ISP

          "On a Constitutional basis, Tennessee is correct and the FCC is wrong. If we had a non-politicized court system, SCOTUS would slap down the FCC so hard it would make El Reg commentard heads explode.""

          Er, no.

          Article I, Section 8, Clause 3:[3]

          [The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

          PERIOD

          The "alphabet agencies" are how Congress does this.

          1. admiraljkb

            Re: if the Chattanooga voters want the city to run an ISP

            "Commerce among States". Not inside the State. In case anyone has forgotten why that clause is there, the first/original post-independence/confederated United States (under the Articles of Confederation) actually had tariffs between the States (like New Jersey and New York slamming each other with tariffs)... It made commerce near impossible between the "United" States prior to the current v2 Federal United States.

  10. fearnothing

    The value of the free market is supposed to be in ensuring good products/services for customers through competition, and good value for businesses and investors through ensuring a wide range of opportunity. The USA's broadband market has neither value for customers due to lack of competition, nor good value for prospective competitors due to the initial cost of entry.

    Not that I'm saying the UK is brilliant, but at least the market here isn't a rotting corpse being picked over by the hyenas.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      The lack of local loop broadband competition in the US is largely a function of the exclusive cable franchises cities granted many years in the past. That has changed significantly, although most places the choice is between cable providing 50 megabit or more service for a price some consider too high and DSL that doesn't do so well. Google, at&t, and Verizon have brought fiber and competition to a few places with beneficial results.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Tennessee doesn't want its cities causing trouble for the likes of Comcast with working, affordable taxpayer-backed ISPs, in other words."

        Except that they frequently don't work, aren't available and are overpriced thanks to state-stamped local loop monopolies.

        "The lack of local loop broadband competition in the US is largely a function of the exclusive cable franchises cities granted many years in the past."

        GIven a choice between between having 30 different companies stringing cable along poles and then going under, or one outfit doing it, that's a sensible decision for the most part, however those exclusive franchises haven't had adequate financial oversight.

        As for 50Mb/s - "yeah right" - there are more complaints about the quality of "broadband" from cablecos than from ISPs - and bear in mind that it's the cablecos who started the "rent seeking" behaviour over the likes of Netflix when it starting impacting sales of their own video services.

        The USA system is a royal clusterfuck based on who pays the regulators the largest backhanders.

  11. RAMChYLD

    I'd say...

    These assholes (the government of the state of Tennessee) that's suing the FCC was paid by Cumca$t and other I$Ps.

    Cumcast and Verizon should back down. Not everyone is stupid. This is just another step of theirs to squash net neutrality.

  12. James 51

    I am surprised that this isn't being framed as a local democracy issue with a small town/rural area trying to provide for it's citizens when the free market has failed them and the state law is anti-freedom and anti-democratic. It's easy to see that interaction between government and citizen is slowly being moved to digital first. The state needs to fill in the blanks for that to happen ans the benefits to society might justify a small financial hit.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    OK can put this into simple stupid terms for me..

    ...as I really don't understand this. I guess not enough coffee / crack

    FCC says local government CAN (not must) run local internet.

    Local government complains it shouldn't be allowed to.

    I just don't get the issue. Why are they complaining they are being allowed, not forced to to something?

    To me, it just seems someone is being bribed / blackmailed big time.

    1. Hans 1
      Boffin

      Re: OK can put this into simple stupid terms for me..

      @ Lost all faith...

      FCC says local government CAN (not must) run local internet.

      State government complains because they want 100% control over local governments. They do not want local governments to compete with private sector companies.

      Local government wants to step-in for lousy service by private companies and provide broadband internet services to all of their citizens.

      There are three layers, here, not two ...

      1. Tom 13

        Re: OK can put this into simple stupid terms for me..

        The FCC has no right to regulate interstate trade. The State of Tenessee has enacted a law regulating intrastate trade, which is fully within its purview and has been constructed so as to encourage interstate trade.

        What you're missing here is that with regard to the US, Tennessee is to the UK as UK is to the EU, that is, it has significant legal rights as sovereign. In this particular case, the power to regulate interstate trade has been delegated from the sovereign states to ONLY the Congress. The FCC =/= Congress, therefore it's rule is unconstitutional.

  14. jason 7

    tl;dr

    So which corporations paid for this lawsuit in cash stuffed envelopes/cocaine/hookers?

  15. Alistair
    Coat

    Dear god.

    Lets make this simple.

    FCC says local government can run ISP for its citizens if it feels the need/compulsion.

    Large employer of MINIMUM wage callcenter bodies pokes the political animal it has funded for the last 12 years in the ass since this means that said large employer of minimum wage callcenter bodies will now have to actually ACTIVELY compete.

    That is ALL this is.

  16. ma1010
    Mushroom

    Total bollocks

    In the U.S., the Federal Government (through the FCC) has total control of electromagnetic spectrum. The FCC "ownership" of the spectrum preempts anything state and local government might want to say on the matter. As an amateur radio operator, I've had experience of this, and it's generally much more of a benefit than a curse.

    Since this suit pertains to wifi emissions which the FCC certainly controls, I can't see how this suit can get any traction. In the U.S., state and local governments have no business telling anyone who can and can not transmit on radio spectrum.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Total bollocks

      The FCC has control of the broadcast spectrum. ISP =/= broadcast. So the first part of your desperate attempt to impose your will without regard to law fails before we get to the nuanced details.

      1. LoPath
        Stop

        Re: Total bollocks

        http://www.fcc.gov/what-we-do

        The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable...

  17. 404

    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.

    ;)

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: One of your Intrepid El Reg Commentards is on the scene..

      Nailed it.

  18. Mike 16 Silver badge

    The AT&T of old

    I find that an interesting assertion. AT&T was not Unicorns farting Rainbows with the old AT&T, but they did fund some amazing R&D and for the most part phone service Just Worked. Come divestiture and it was the classic Race to the Bottom, which was won by companies like SBC, by the simple expedient of never spending a dime on maintenance or paying wages sufficient to keep competent folks employed. This gave them the war-chest needed to take over the better run local telcos (e.g. Pacific Bell), and eventually buy the husk of AT&T so they could rename themselves. Not that anybody with AT&T service forgets that they are actually being "Serviced By Cowboys". Cowboys who think "service" is what a bull does to a cow.

    Under (the new) AT&T, I had a three day, worker-induced, service outage on my POTS landline, This was many time the total downtime I had in the previous 50 years with Pacific Bell. And those previous outages were caused by things like floods and earthquakes.

    1. 404

      Re: The AT&T of old

      Oh I agree - and there was that Brit expat* who let a set of tits from AT&T upsell him and fail to notice the web & email servers running downstairs that required static public IP addresses - AT&T had the client down for a week and there's something about an English accent that changes when they're raging. I learned new words that made no kind of sense to an American-raised IT guy. Not my fault, but I was handy.

      *I secretly believe he's not British, but Scottish. That man, God love him, is so cheap he'd squeak when he walked if he had an asshole.

  19. JesseH

    Full disclosure, I live in Chattangooa and subscribe to the fiber service the article talks about. The speed and service is awesome.

    Now one thing that I don't see in the discussion is that while the provider (EPB) is a public utility, it is not funded by taxes. It is a independent, solvent private corporation that takes no public funds to build out its network. The argument about government competing with business doesn't apply at all here.

    And in case anyone is wondering, when EPB sells you a 1Gbps package, you get it. I speed test regularly and never saw either up nor down dip below 995Mbps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "And in case anyone is wondering, when EPB sells you a 1Gbps package, you get it. I speed test regularly and never saw either up nor down dip below 995Mbps."

      I find that just a bit hard to believe given that raw Ethernet normally has ~20% overhead due to 8b/10 coding. Meaning the fastest you should be getting from Speedtest on a typical setup (say a Gigabit Ethernet connection) should be 800Mbit/sec, not factoring in slow points between you and the Speedtest server. Unless you're saying you're testing from something with a faster link like a 10Gibt connection.

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  21. DXMage

    Comcast doesn't want any competition

    Comcast has openly stated on more than a few occasions where they actively work to eliminate competition so that they can raise prices and has stated clearly that with the purchase of Time-Warner that they will raise the prices where they are the established ISP to Comcast levels. They have been aggressively working to make a monopoly. SO yes if no one will come in to provide any kind of competition to make the pricing more competitive for the consumer benefit then why not? It is very clear that in locations where there is competition prices for bandwidth is sometime 25% of those locations where there is no competition. Where I live to get 30mb I have to pay $75 and I'm in town right by the fiber line. However just 50 miles to the south of me where there is competition you can get 60mb for $47 bucks a month. That's just bullshit.

  22. W. Anderson

    States as pawns of Telcos

    I suspect the Tennessee State Attorney General and State Legislators have an alternative political agenda, directed by Comcast.

    What would be the State's position if Chattanooga allowed the "private" Google to setup the City and surronding areas broadband with 70% less costs than would go to Comcast?

    Unfortunately many of these states are completely in pocket of Telcos like Compcast, Verizon and AT&T, and are willing to allow these telecomms/Internet services monopolies to milk the State dry for the personal financial enrichment of ruling politicians.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next thing you know

    Next thing you know ATT will decide it wants to provide electrical power, puts public utilities out of business, and buys the utilities generators for a song, guess which way your electricity bill is going?

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