Government utilities charge that private utilities are working to kill broadband bill

Government utilities charge that private utilities are working to kill broadband bill

March 30th, 2015 by Andy Sher in Politics State

In this file photograph from June, EPB employees work in the Distribution Center.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - An organization for municipally-owned utilities say investor-owned telecommunications companies are preparing to try and jerk the plug on their bill that would allow Chattanooga-based EPB and other public utilities to expand fast-speed internet broadband outside their service areas.

"If a community wants better broadband service, faster speeds, more competition, and more choices, it should have access to them," said Jeremy Elrod, director of government relations for the Tennessee Municipal Electric Power Association (TMEPA), in a statement. 

Elroad said that "whether the service is from a private or municipal provider, a local community should be able to decide for itself how broadband is offered. Right now the private incumbent providers are deciding for communities and consumers, telling them to be happy with whatever they get offered."

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, and Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Commerce Committee and House Business and Utilities Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of a complaint brought by EPB and the city of Wilson, N.C., which charged their attempts to extend broadband had been stymied by the political power of companies like AT&T and Comcast.

But Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery on March 20 appealed the FFC's ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, accusing federal regulators of overreach.