Tennessee Sues the FCC to Stop City-Run Internet

CommanderFrank

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The State of Tennessee wasted no time in bringing suit against the FCC to halt implementation of city/county rights to construct and operate their own broadband services.

It (Tennessee) claims that the FCC "has unlawfully inserted itself between the State of Tennessee and the State's own political subdivisions," calling it "arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion."
 

Skripka

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Should rather be titled... Time Warner Cable and Comcast bought officials file suit for their corporate overlords.
 

4saken

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that sucks. Living here, in Nashville area. At least we are getting google fiber in the next 2 years.
 

wsnors

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Comcast owns the cable tv and the internet in most of Tennessee so this does not surprise me at all. Also we in Tennessee have a very backward state government so it's to be expected.
 

copy_run_start

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^ "smart guys down there" as I typo "the" instead of "that." I guess the true jerk is... me.
 

kbrickley

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Although I agree that cities should have the right to develop their own systems (if that is what their voters want) I can see the other side as well that a private company is not going to want to try and compete with a public entity that has access to unlimited tax payer funding and the right to eminent domain to lay the infrastructure

Ultimately the best solution is not city owned systems but city and state owned infrastructure that they can lease out to the private companies to provide the internet and cable services ... if the infrastructure is state owned you get the benefit of leveraging the entire property base to reduce costs (all homeowners can be charged the property tax, regardless of whether they use the service) which keeps the infrastructure costs down and you can also use eminent domain to put the infrastructure where it needs to be without interference from property owners who try to block the best infrastructure routes ... once the infrastructure is laid then it can be leased out to the private companies who offer the best combination of service and price ... states could encourage this approach at a statewide level so that we don't have as many battles between cities that work against the interests of all cities ... that would seem to be a system that works best for the consumers and the companies involved
 

sfsuphysics

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Although I agree that cities should have the right to develop their own systems (if that is what their voters want) I can see the other side as well that a private company is not going to want to try and compete with a public entity that has access to unlimited tax payer funding and the right to eminent domain to lay the infrastructure
The irony of this though is that the private companies in question have so much more access to funds than ANY city our county does that it's not funny.
 

kinjo

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The irony of this though is that the private companies in question have so much more access to funds than ANY city our county does that it's not funny.

well other than the country part (I think the amount of money the US government has access to compared to even the largest corporations would surprise people) you are absolutely right this is not a case of some poor mom and pop company taking on city hall this is a case of a large corporate interest trying to stop a city and it's residents from doing something they have every right to do and that more cities in America ought to be doing.

The reality is that the major broadband providers all have an effective monopoly because they refuse to actually compete with each other (or in many rural areas simply have no competition) and the only way that will change is for some other entity like like say maybe local governments (and Google if you in one of like three cities in the whole US) to force them to compete. Until then price fixing slow speeds and bandwidth caps will continue to plague the vast majority of Americans.
 

nilepez

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Although I agree that cities should have the right to develop their own systems (if that is what their voters want) I can see the other side as well that a private company is not going to want to try and compete with a public entity that has access to unlimited tax payer funding and the right to eminent domain to lay the infrastructure

False. This already happened in Chattanooga TN and Lafayette LA (among others). I know that the result of Lafayette was Cox Cable rolled out their first Docsis 3 network. I think we can safely assume that it wouldn't have been their first city if there wasn't competition. I suspect most of these networks are funded by bonds, not infinite taxes. In Lafayette's case, it's the municipal electric company that runs the FTTH network.

ISPs don't want this, because it introduces competition, not because it eliminates it. There's plenty of profit in providing internet access (far more than most seem to think).
 

Stiler

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Thi sis SO stupid.

Chattanooga was one of (if not the first) cities to roll out it's own internet service, offering up to 1gb speeds for the city it serviced (even before google).

A lot of people aren't that area are wanting themt to expand to other communities and they want to.

Now the state is trying to stop what their own people want?

Sigh.
 

Skripka

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Thi sis SO stupid.

Chattanooga was one of (if not the first) cities to roll out it's own internet service, offering up to 1gb speeds for the city it serviced (even before google).

A lot of people aren't that area are wanting themt to expand to other communities and they want to.

Now the state is trying to stop what their own people want?

Sigh.

Hey Comcast and Time Warner are "People" too. Judging by how they get their way 99.99% of the time, they're much more "people" than us humans are.
 

tetris42

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Thi sis SO stupid.

Chattanooga was one of (if not the first) cities to roll out it's own internet service, offering up to 1gb speeds for the city it serviced (even before google).

A lot of people aren't that area are wanting themt to expand to other communities and they want to.

Now the state is trying to stop what their own people want?

Sigh.
Don't blame Tennessee, this is normal all over the country. There was a study done looking at 1800 cases where the will of the people conflicted with what business interests wanted and the people lost every time. Big money runs the country now.
 

nilepez

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Don't blame Tennessee, this is normal all over the country. There was a study done looking at 1800 cases where the will of the people conflicted with what business interests wanted and the people lost every time. Big money runs the country now.

Not all of them. The will of the people in Lafayette ultimately won out, though it took 5 years for the AT&T and Cox to back down...technically the last case was by 2 people, but as I recall, nobody knew who these people were and they never appeared in court, so it was assumed they were token citizens being used as a proxy for AT&T and/or Cox.
 

Jagger100

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The irony of this though is that the private companies in question have so much more access to funds than ANY city our county does that it's not funny.

In the perspective of the whole country, yes. But in terms of the monies they make from the region in question, no.

They aren't going to sacrifice the entire corporate war chest to compete with a muni gov'ts cable offering in Tennessee for a tiny strip of land. They would work within the profit margin that region offered and when that goes to zero they would not be able to compete and it would be not worth fighting.
 

c3141hf

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Although I agree that cities should have the right to develop their own systems (if that is what their voters want) I can see the other side as well that a private company is not going to want to try and compete with a public entity that has access to unlimited tax payer funding and the right to eminent domain to lay the infrastructure

Ultimately the best solution is not city owned systems but city and state owned infrastructure that they can lease out to the private companies to provide the internet and cable services ... if the infrastructure is state owned you get the benefit of leveraging the entire property base to reduce costs (all homeowners can be charged the property tax, regardless of whether they use the service) which keeps the infrastructure costs down and you can also use eminent domain to put the infrastructure where it needs to be without interference from property owners who try to block the best infrastructure routes ... once the infrastructure is laid then it can be leased out to the private companies who offer the best combination of service and price ... states could encourage this approach at a statewide level so that we don't have as many battles between cities that work against the interests of all cities ... that would seem to be a system that works best for the consumers and the companies involved

The private companies already have unlimited access to tax victim funding and the "right" to eminent domain. Franchises are a state granted privilege that have no legitimate basis and they are what allow private companies to come in and monopolize an area and have no competition.
 

Semantics

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In the perspective of the whole country, yes. But in terms of the monies they make from the region in question, no.

They aren't going to sacrifice the entire corporate war chest to compete with a muni gov'ts cable offering in Tennessee for a tiny strip of land. They would work within the profit margin that region offered and when that goes to zero they would not be able to compete and it would be not worth fighting.
Large ISPs lobby to have access to state and federal funds anyways it's more like taxpayers pay twice once to get screwed in the ass and once to actually get the service they deserve.
 

haz_mat

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Big business protecting their big profits, no news here. All their claims about how it is expensive to expand and upgrade their networks... a load of bullshit. They've taken billions in grants to expand their networks, and each time they take one of those grants they walk-back their promised goals to further pad their wallets. The way they're doing things is incredibly profitable - its not really that cost prohibitive to deploy new network, it pays for itself faster than they want to admit - and after its paid off its almost a pure-profit business. They want to keep it that way, deploy fewer new services to maximize the profit gained from existing installations.

It's pretty clear now that data communication access should be treated as a municipality - same as the telcos, electric utilities, water/sewer, etc. Even those entities are known to screw over the populace, but at least the rules are a bit tighter on them.

I used to be pretty stoked about having Verizon FIOS in my area - but the sobering reality is they have all but given up on expanding that service. So if/when I want to move it will be very likely to an area without the 50+mbit service I've been accustomed to.
 

pothb

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The federal govt does encompass the states. I think it's good if they are interfering if the state's law are blocking freedoms. Is it a freedom for a city/company to set up it's own ISP? I'd say so. Feel free to persuade me away from it though. I'd like to hear thoughts on that.
 

Adelante

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Ugh, Marsha "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" Blackburn - has there ever been a story with her involved that didn't involve shameful stupidity and/or terrific avarice? She's a craven pawn of the ISPs and business interests over the good of the people. Don't ask her about climate change because she's probably still convinced that it's a hoax dreamt up by Al Gore. :rolleyes:

As to the topic, the suit is not surprising, but disappointing. As others have pointed out, the private companies get all in a huff when "government" starts pushing things forward when there's so much money to be made in not improving anything.
 

daglesj

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You see this kind of behaviour a lot in the US.

It's like seeing a person crawl out of the desert gasping for water, you hand them a glass of water and they slap it out of your hand saying "Hey...someone told me...not to drink it!" then collapse dead.

It's amazing what cocaine and hookers can buy.
 

PCMusicGuy

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False. This already happened in Chattanooga TN and Lafayette LA (among others). I know that the result of Lafayette was Cox Cable rolled out their first Docsis 3 network. I think we can safely assume that it wouldn't have been their first city if there wasn't competition. I suspect most of these networks are funded by bonds, not infinite taxes. In Lafayette's case, it's the municipal electric company that runs the FTTH network.

ISPs don't want this, because it introduces competition, not because it eliminates it. There's plenty of profit in providing internet access (far more than most seem to think).

Cox Cable sued LUS (Lafayette Utilities Systems) too and lost. They did delay the project though. Thankfully, LUS was already running a municipal fiber ring around the city and servicing commercial customers, so getting the residential side started wasn't too bad. The end result is a pretty decent FTTH system.

Fun Fact: I was working on this LUS FTTH project back in 05 with some really good guys. One of them is now a lead FTTP engineer for Google in San Francisco.
 

Skripka

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Tennessee is correct about the federalism aspect.

After all the States have a right to tromp on the wishes of their People, too! Why should the Federales keep the corporate-shill State governments from denying the will of the people?

The State of Tennessee is not correct about anything here, really.

Crap like this is precisely why the Fed government needs to intervene in State affairs. Because the State officials are obviously cxorrupt and beholden to special interests that are not those of the voters.
 

Romale23

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After all the States have a right to tromp on the wishes of their People, too! Why should the Federales keep the corporate-shill State governments from denying the will of the people?

The State of Tennessee is not correct about anything here, really.

Crap like this is precisely why the Fed government needs to intervene in State affairs. Because the State officials are obviously cxorrupt and beholden to special interests that are not those of the voters.
If you can find where the federal government has this right I'd like to see it. Your other point are valid, but we(electorate) let this shit happens, we bitch but we dont do anything about it. With the internet there is no excuse. I writey legislators a lot, my two most recent concerned a law requiring any database that has an SSN to be encrypted and ATTs shitty server redirect shit for their fiber. Both my federal and state offices called me asking for detailed explanation, cost analysis etc. If I don't see anything by next election or vote in my state I'm going to do my best to call them out on it. It may get me no where but I'm trying
 

neokeelo

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This article is not entirely accurate. I live in West TN about an hour east of Memphis (Jackson) and we have our own fiber to the home network that the local city utility department invested and installed about 10 years ago. I currently pay $70 a month for 80down/30up with no caps and its great.
Next year we are getting gigabit speeds at the normal Chatanooga\Google Fiber rate of $70ish a month.

I feel bad for Nashville and Memphis who have to rely on Comcast. I wont move to Nashville until they get Google Fiber.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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If you can find where the federal government has this right I'd like to see it.

The interstate commerce clause of the 10th amendment of the constitution is worded very broadly, to the point where it is difficult to find any power congress might want over the states outside what the constitution explicitly prohibits.

I don't think it would be too difficult to argue that the internet has strong enough ties to interstate commerce such that it allows the federal government using powers powers given to it by congress to regulate it.
 

snowcat

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AT&T and Comcast were both major contributors to Gov. Haslam's campaign in 2014. So it isn't a surprise at all that he is going forward with this.

Just to clarify, city-run internet in Tennessee has been very successful in Clarksville, Chattanooga, and Tullahoma. The big issue is allowing these providers to expand to their surrounding counties. It is frustrating that my parents live a mile away from the Clarksville city border and can't get their high speed service (they had no options at all till Charter finally wired their neighborhood this winter).

Nashville at least has competition between Comcast and Uverse, and with the news Google Fiber is coming, both services have pledged to have 1 GB internet at some point as well. But I will believe it when I see it.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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It is frustrating that my parents live a mile away from the Clarksville city border and can't get their high speed service (they had no options at all till Charter finally wired their neighborhood this winter).

1.) Make friends someone who lives a mile away across the border.
2.) Offer to split costs for a higher plan with them
3.a) Run your own fiber ethernet run along that mile, -or-
3.b) Install a point to point wireless network. Ubiquiti Networks sells a few decent ones that are surprisingly affordable

:p
 

MrCaffeineX

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There is a frequent argument made by the political right that privatization is the key. Examples include hospitals, nursing homes, health insurance, social security, etc. The assumption is that a private enterprise can and will operate much more efficiently than a government agency.

I am in favor of municipal broadband rollouts and the political right should be as well. After all, if the government will be more inefficient in its operation of said service, then private companies should have no trouble competing.

Corporations like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon have lobbied to receive grants, tax breaks, regulatory incentives, as well as non-compete/local monopoly status, through franchise agreements, in many municipalities, on the grounds that expansion outside of densely populated urban areas is unprofitable. What is wrong with letting rural municipalities assume that risk for themselves instead of relying on a corporation that may or may not ever build out the infrastructure, despite receiving incentives to do so?
 

MrCaffeineX

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Zarathustra[H];1041517229 said:
1.) Make friends someone who lives a mile away across the border.
2.) Offer to split costs for a higher plan with them
3.a) Run your own fiber ethernet run along that mile, -or-
3.b) Install a point to point wireless network. Ubiquiti Networks sells a few decent ones that are surprisingly affordable

:p

My friend has a similar setup. He lives about 3/4 of a mile past where the ISP stopped running cable. A neighbor a few houses over offered to share with him if he put up the point-to-point infrastructure, so that is what he did. I think Ubiquiti even has longer-range equipment than what he is using.
 

Parmenides

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They have municipal fiber in Chatanooga. Maybe there is more to this (without me getting a chance to read the article first). I wonder how that pans out. But yeah, Comcast and their Nashville data cap can go pound sand.
 

cp_kirkley

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My friend has a similar setup. He lives about 3/4 of a mile past where the ISP stopped running cable. A neighbor a few houses over offered to share with him if he put up the point-to-point infrastructure, so that is what he did. I think Ubiquiti even has longer-range equipment than what he is using.

Brilliant! Expensive and should be goddamned unnecessary but well played nonetheless.
 

a104375

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I get state's rights and all but this is a stupid lawsuit, nothing but a waste of money.
 
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