Monday, September 22, 2014

A Digital Desert: The Internet Debate Pits Local Communities Against Broadband Giants

A Digital Desert: The Internet Debate Pits Local Communities Against Broadband Giants: Bradley County and other rural communities outside Chattanooga have requested that EPB expand its world-class fiber connection to their area, because companies like Charter have failed to do so. EPB wants to expand its service to rural customers where economically feasible, but a state law passed in 1999 - before most American homes had internet access - is keeping the utility from doing so.

The economics for EPB (Chattanooga's local nonprofit electric utility) to construct fiber to the premise (FTTP) telecommunications infrastructure for Bradley County, Tennessee could well pencil out more easily than for the incumbent legacy phone and cable providers -- where it thus far hasn't.

It's time for state policymakers to repeal laws (or the federal government to preempt them) that restrict expansion by nonprofit telecommunications providers like EPB. It makes no sense from a public policy perspective to preserve a for-profit duopoly as an exclusive franchise without a broad socio-economic justification when lower cost community providers may be economically more able to bring FTTP connections to most all American homes and small businesses.

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