Tuesday, December 04, 2007

AT&T distorts build out as socioeconomic issue

As it did in California and other states where it has sought statewide broadband franchising statutes, AT&T is once again distorting the issue of build out requirements as one of socioeconomic status.

This time it's Tennessee and AT&T Tennessee President Gregg Morton is insisting that AT&T supports language in proposed state franchise legislation that prohibits red-lining of low income neighborhoods.

That's an irrelevant red herring. Building out advanced telecommunications infrastructure has nothing to do with neighborhood income levels. AT&T wants states to issue franchises rather than local governments because they know the locals will rightly insist they serve their entire communities and not just parts of them with an incomplete system.

The reality in Tennessee and other states where it has petitioned for state franchise laws is that AT&T wants to build advanced telecommunications infrastructure on the cheap, leaving some residents and businesses with access to advanced broadband-based services and others without.

Tennessee should reject this effort and tell AT&T and other backers of the bill it won't tolerate dividing the state into digital haves and digital have nots.

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