‘AT&T is the villain’ in city broadband fight, Republican lawmakers says

“Proponents of rural broadband services on Wednesday demanded Tennessee lawmakers quit listening to for-profit telephone and cable giants and allow Chattanooga’s EPB [Electric Power Board of Chattanooga]and other municipal electric power services to expand their lightning-fast Internet offerings to underserved areas,” Andy Sher reports for The Times Free Press. “‘We’re talking about AT&T,’ Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, bluntly told a rally of business owners, families and local officials gathered in the state Capitol. ‘They’re the most powerful lobbying organization in this state by far.'”

“The bill has been opposed for years by AT&T, Comcast and other providers who say it’s unfair for them to have to compete with government entities like EPB. But EPB, as well as some lawmakers like Gardenhire, say if the free market isn’t providing the service, someone else should,” Sher reports. “‘Don’t fall for the argument that this is a free market versus government battle,’ Gardenhire said. ‘It is not. AT&T is the villain here, and so are the other people and cable.'”

“Earlier this week, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, told National Federation of Independent Business-Tennessee members she doesn’t expect the General Assembly will take up the issue this year after Gov. Bill Haslam’s economic development officials announced they were initiating a study,” Sher reports. “But the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, said he is ‘absolutely’ pressing forward with the bill. It has been put on notice to be heard in March in House subcommittee. ‘There was a misconception that the broadband bill was dead. The bill is not dead,’ Brooks said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The state of Internet in some parts of the U.S. is not strong.

[Attribution: Ars Technica. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Like many things in life this is a complex issue. I’m a conservative Republican, however the free market is not the solution to everything – if we had let the free market “work” most of us would be packed into cites like sardines as they are in Europe – the incredible expenses of rural electrocution and rural water would have forced it. However some reasonable government intervention allowed for people to remain in rural America but still have roads, water, and electricity. Internet access is another one of these areas that will need Government intervention or rural America will not have access to these technologies at reasonable prices.

    1. Being a conservative Republican doesn’t mean you think the free market is the solution for everything, don’t pigeonhole yourself, leftists will do that anyway. The government is supposed to prevent monopolies like ATT and Comcast from screwing its customers.

  2. The weather sucks compared to California but I’m enjoying my 70mbps/65mbps down/up speeds here in Eastern Europe for $20/month. Rural or urban, you won’t find that in America.

  3. Bills to prevent municipal Broadband and public utility broadband come right outta the Koch Funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), part of the Kochtipus of Conservative/Libertarian astro-turf organs.

    ALEC writes pattern laws which are adopted cookie cutter in state Assemblies and then signed by Republican Governors. Among their proudest work:
    1. Pushing voter suppression laws
    2. Reducing or eliminating income taxes
    3. Blocking paid sick leave bills
    4. Attacking efforts to raise wages
    5. Taking down state renewable energy standards
    6. Banning the exposure of unsafe or cruel farm practices through Ag Gag Bills
    7. Fighting Municipal Broadband

    They are so toxic even corporate America is moving away from them. Here is a link to a non-profit that monitors ALEC:

  4. You AT&T people could have it worse.

    I think I have mentioned that I live in a fairly upscale neighborhood less than a mile from the main Verizon Communications phone switch in the county seat of one of the five fastest-growing counties in the US, populated by hugely tech-savvy people. Austin, Apple’s second-largest American business site, is less than 15 miles away and has three providers for gigabit service. You might think we would have spectacular broadband service here, too.

    In fact, I was paying for the fastest broadband service available in my location and regularly got less than 0.75 Mbps download speed… when it was working, which it did not on rainy days. Finally switched to our notoriously horrible cable provider and got 20.73 Mbps for the same price. The customer service is awful but at least I can use the Internet.

    Obviously, Verizon was not sinking any money into improvements or maintenance of its copper network and had no plans to expand its fiber into our enclave of 150,000 or so Verizon customers surrounded by AT&T. (In what now seems like the good old days before Ma Bell was dismantled, GTE was our local monopoly while most Texans had Southwestern Bell). Thanks to deregulation, nobody had the authority to force improvements and the customers were equally powerless to buck the monopoly. It seemed like it couldn’t get worse.

    Well, that is about to change. Sometime between now and the end of March, Verizon Communications (as distinct from Verizon Wireless) is selling all its customers in Texas, California, and Florida to Frontier Communications, which specializes in rural phone systems. Depending on how you count it, that will either double or triple the number of Frontier clients. From my research, it appears that Frontier already has a customer satisfaction rating of about 1.4 on a 10-scale and consistently rates as the worst broadband provider in America. I can’t imagine that scaling the company up is going to improve its service. Frontier has announced that it is going to hold all of its new customers to their existing Verizon contracts. Switching carriers will carry the customary penalties. When asked if they are going to expand fiber into new areas, they say they will be looking into that. They have committed to getting DSL to at least 80% of their customers, including the ones who are still forced to use dial-up modems.

    Wow! So, as I said, you AT&T customers could have it worse.

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