Thanks to Christopher Mitchell at Institute for Local Self-Reliance for giving me the head up on Chattanooga’s upcoming vote on FTTH. I know Tennessee is a long way from Minnesota (and seems to be getting farther as the season change) but I thought it might be interesting to take a look at their current situation.
Apparently EPB already offers Internet and phone service. The FTTH project will allow them to offer triple play services (Internet, phone, cable/video). The cost is estimated at $200 million and it will take about three years to build 2,000 miles of fiber to serve 80 percent of its customers. The plan is to recoup investment through income generated from the system.
To get approval EPB needed to apply to the state comptroller’s office. After that, the board must vote again on whether to go forward, and then schedule a period for public comments. The board would then vote again. Then the city council could vote the idea up or down, or decide to hold a referendum in which citizens would decide on whether EPB should be authorized to move forward.
Sidebar: There’s an interesting blog post from Chattanooga on this topic (Fiber To The Home or EPB vs. Comcast). The author “selfishly” wants fiber but questions the municipal connection – interesting reading and interesting comments.
Sidebar 2: Kathy Harriman from EPB is the Chair Person for the FTTH Council – just interesting to note. I think every great effort takes a few motivated leaders. Maybe Ms Harriman is it here.
Fast forward to today-ish; there is a vote scheduled for the Chattanooga’s City Council.
The Chattanooga Free Press reported earlier this month (Public supports EPB fiber proposal) “an overwhelming majority of participants expressed support for EPB’s proposed fiber-optic initiative.” It sounds as if most people were enthusiastic, although concern came from the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association (Comcast is a member). They were worried that such a great investment might lead to great losses.
The Chattanooga Free Press reported last week that (Tech companies give input on EPB fiber-optic plan) EPB recently hosted a lunch for tech companies to ask questions and offer feedback. (They had note cards for feedback that EPB would pass on to the City Council.) Many people were in favor of the plan; some were less enthusiastic about the potential issues of government infringing on competition. I have to say that I think holding the meeting (and getting press coverage) was genius! A great way to get the tech community invested and spread the word to the general public.
So the vote is next week. I’ll try to keep an eye on it. It sounds like the odds are good. This week’s vote in Monticello was a slam dunk. It will be interesting to see if this one is too.