Monday, March 09, 2015

Tennesseans want fiber Internet service

More and more areas of the United States are recognizing they need to build fiber telecommunications infrastructure just as they built their own roads and highways. The excerpts below from this story explain why and the growing political sentiment that is reaching a tipping point.

Farm Bureau backs EPB expansions | Local News | Times Free Press: Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, said he backs Bowling's bill because his top priority is getting high-speed Internet to rural areas of south Bradley County that are in his district. Some 800 families would benefit, he said.

He said Charter, Comcast and AT&T told him "it's not profitable" to do it. In Gardenhire's view, "private enterprise has given up on taking care of the people."

Some south Bradley Countians are less than a mile from EPB's service area but can't get its broadband, leaving them with dial-up service and a slow connection speed. Joyce Coltrin, whose wholesale nursery is in southern Bradley County, relies on her cellphone to access the Internet.

"It's very hard to use an iPhone for business," said Coltrin, who heads a group of 160 households who call themselves "citizens striving to be part of the 21st century." They, too, have been pushing state legislators to change the law.

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Wireless in particular "is capable of a tiny fraction of what fiber can deliver, with respect to speed, reliability, and capacity," she said. "Because of data caps and usage-based pricing, it's also very, very expensive for anyone who uses a lot of bandwidth, such as families who home-school and therefore require lots of online video." Saying that a community "doesn't need fiber because it has DSL or wireless is like saying that the nation doesn't need the Interstatehighway system because we have the Santa Fe trail," Hovis argued.

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