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World-Leading Municipality Initiative Thwarted by Incumbent

The ongoing witch-hunt from the incumbent telcos in the USA against municipalities that are trying to build their own broadband networks is continuing unabated.

This is nothing new. When Sol Trujillo (Telstra’s outgoing CEO) was CEO of USWest he led lawsuits against local councils for that purpose, all in the name of ‘free market’—free as in ‘no rules apply to us’.

With the economic crisis there has been a new focus on regulatory rules and the importance of the common good, next to the free market. However that message has not yet got through to the incumbent players in the USA.

With President Obama determined to promote the development of open network telecommunications and smart grid networks we can expect the incumbents to step up their legal battles to stop this from happening.

In relation to the recent $7 billion stimulus package AT&T made a statement that it didn’t need the money, but that it would launch a defensive campaign against any competitors using the money to encroach on its territory.

The following is an interesting report from the city of Chattanooga in Tennessee. One week after the local court dismissed a lawsuit filed by an association of cable companies against the community-based FttH group, EPB, Comcast filed another suit. The company’s lawsuit is based on its claim that the council might do something illegal in the future.

The local council made the following statement:

We are disappointed in their actions, not only because they are seeking to limit choices for Chattanoogans but because this lawsuit represents Comcast’s continued attempt to deny our community the great opportunities that the superior technology of Fiber to the Home will make possible.

Without a proper and affordable high-speed broadband network Chattanooga Council has been working on plans to improve the situation.

This truly forward-looking community has launched a trans-sector project.

For more than a decade the local electricity company has been adding communications components throughout downtown Chattanooga and at strategic points along their electric system. Creating one of the country’s, and indeed the world’s, first smart grids, which will cover the entire service area. Most other projects are still based on rather small pilots.

The fibre network that makes the smart grid possible does have an added benefit of making FttH services possible as well, because Internet, video and telephone options would run on an all-fibre network instead of copper wires or coaxial cables.

Despite the legal action the community feels supported by President’s Obama policy for open telecoms and smart grid networks.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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Nice piece, Paul. Happily, the cable Paul Budde  –  Apr 6, 2009 9:11 PM

“Nice piece, Paul.  Happily, the cable association and Comcast did not succeed in stopping the project, as the title implies.”
Jim Baller

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