Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Muni Broadband Project's Gig Service: Fast or Phantom?

Taxpayers Protection Alliance's David Williams re-published a piece in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that questions the hype surrounding a municipal broadband project in Tennessee. Chattanooga's EPB has touted broadband Internet service speeds of 1G. But as the title of the piece asks, "Is EPB's gig service a hoax?"
Given EPB's steep infrastructure investment, one might expect EPB's boasts of stellar service speeds to be plausible. Of course, EPB's infrastructure is funded by local taxpayers and electricity customers—to the tune of $552 million.
However, EPB declined to provide broadband services to a local business enterprise with significant bandwidth capacity demands. Refusing to offer service to the enterprise at EPB's advertised rates, the enterprise turned to EPB's rival Comcast to meet its broadband service needs. Curious.
As we have explained in prior writings, municipal broadband projects across the country have hit local taxpayers hard, precisely at a time when public and private budgets are already on the ropes. 
But EPB appeared to offer a counterfactual, a success story to be emulated by other aspiring local government officials. EPB was even cited by the FCC in its recent Section 706 Report. So answers to questions surrounding EPB certainly deserves close attention.
Now that EPB has been called out it will be interesting to see whether EPB is more about spin than speeds. 

[*Editorial note: this post was edit to reflect that the Chattanooga Times Free Press piece was re-printed but not authored by Mr. Williams.]