It’s the same story all over the map; corporate opposition to local telecom initiatives has become a regular feature of such ventures.
In the day’s news are upset communities from across the country. Naperville, IL is furious with AT&T (our new phone company overlords) for refusing to follow the law (shock!); Muskegon, MI can’t fathom why Verizon won’t allow poll attachments for its new fiber system (No!); Clarksville, TN anticipates opposition to its plan to roll out fiber (Duh).
Naperville is angry about AT&T’s claim that it doesn’t have to follow the law governing cable companies if it wants to offer cable services since it isn’t a cable company….. Confusing? You bet. AT&T likes confusing laws. Fron the local Daily Herald:
An angry city council rejected the telecommunication giant’s request Tuesday to offer the service without full build-out in the city after learning the company had reneged on several negotiating points previously agreed upon.
“I’m very sorry I wasted my time meeting with AT&T,” Councilman James Boyajian said. “I have not dealt with many companies that showed less integrity than AT&T on this thing and if this is the way they are going to do business, other municipalities better watch out.”
The build-out requirements were the nub of the dispute over BellSouth/AT&T’s recent attempt to secure a state-wide video franchise. The phone company really, really doesn’t want to have to serve everyone in exchange for using the community rights of way.
In Muskeogen the phone giant Verizon isn’t allowing a local school district/local government consortium to attach to poles they own regardless of a state law requiring them to do so
Local officials are fuming about Verizon’s actions, calling them “delay tactics” and “sabotage.” The total cost of avoiding Verizon poles is estimated at more than $300,000, said officials with the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, which spearheaded the fiber project.
“This is a classic case of a project that has been developed for the common good going up against corporate self-interest,” said MAISD Superintendent Susan Meston…
“It makes me angry because somewhere along the line, I have to guess their stand has to be fiscally motivated,” McCastle said. “In the name of their dollar bottom line, they want to do what they can to mess with people in Muskegon County.
State law requires pole-owning companies to allow educational institutions to attach to their poles and other owners are complying. Verizon, you’ll be shocked to discover, is fighting the law on hard-to-understand technical grounds in the courts. The local group has decided it would be cheaper and faster to simply lay in their own poles.
In Clarksville a referendum to approve revenue bonds for a fiber-optic system similar to Lafayette’s is going to be put before the people in November.
Spradlin said voters can expect to see campaigning by CDE and opponents to the plan — such as Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association, Charter Communications and BellSouth — as the referendum approaches.
“There have been some relatively bloody fights in some other communities,” Spradlin said…
“After seeing what these other communities have gone through, we realized real quick we were going to need some help in these areas,” Spradlin said.
Representatives of Charter, BellSouth and the TCTA spoke at City Council and town hall meetings last winter as CDE sought to become an authority, in addition to lobbying the City Council members individually.
Clarksville needs a citizen’s group. Watch out guys…
I’m no longer surprised at such stories. But the what I’ve started to notice in the last 6 months or so is that the language on the part of the communities has changed. Back when Joey Durel and Terry Huval were calling the incumbents “greedy out of state monopolies” and “gourmandise” such langauage was shocking–and inspiring. But now it is clear that the wind has shifted and such langauge is no longer taboo. This is how attitudes change. The incumbents are burning up their credit with the public. They’d be wiser not to stand in the way of local communities.