Let Consumers Have Their Vote

For more than a decade, Nashville has acknowledged that its economic vitality depends upon the adequacy of its broadband infrastructure.  (See, Report of the Task Force on Telecommunications Innovation, August 2006).  This acknowledgement has not led to the kind of private investment necessary to build out the network we need to compete in today’s economy. 

Recently, Nashville has had a renewed conversation about this need with the so-called “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance which would expedite the private investment in broadband services.  Google Fiber initiated this discussion as they saw how difficult it was to build out their proposed network.  The ordinance has received overwhelming support from consumers, and it has already passed a recent Metro Council vote 32-7.

This Tuesday, the Council is set to have its third and final vote. I urge the Council to move forward without any delay. 

Here’s what’s at stake. Today, Nashville residents have only two choices when it comes to broadband Internet access ­– an essential part of our daily lives and our community’s economic development. More competition means lower prices and faster speeds.

For a new company to provide service, it must construct a network across our city, mile by mile, utility pole by utility pole.  Unfortunately, the process of attaching new fiber-optic cables to poles is fundamentally broken. Companies who already have their wires on the poles have to move those wires first, so that poles are “made ready” for a new entrant. Each company does this work separately and sequentially ­– that is, first AT&T will roll a truck into your neighborhood, move its wire, and only after that point will Comcast roll another truck in and move their wire, and so on. This may have made sense decades ago, but it doesn’t make sense in the 21st century.

This system stifles competition, risks our economic vitality and is fundamentally bad for the consumer.   The proposed ordinance is a common sense way to address this problem.  Rather than having many disruptions and possible safety hazards from multiple crews climbing up poles in our neighborhood, it proposes to have one crew, approved by the pole owner, do all the work in one touch of the pole.

Arguments against opening up our city to competition have abounded. 

Why not let the parties hash out an agreement? Well, it’s the city’s responsibility to effectively manage its rights-of-way and only an ordinance can address the dozens of different parties who could be affected today, not to mention the potential future entrants into the market.

Some have argued that this would result in less work for communications workers.   To the contrary, this change will result in more work for communications workers by enabling companies to deploy larger networks, faster than without the ordinance.

What if we get sued?  The Nashville that I know won’t let a lawyer’s threat scare it away from a policy we think is best; doing so would set a dangerous precedent for the future.

The entrenched will always find an argument against change that threatens their dominance over the consumer.  It’s up to the Council to stand up to those arguments on behalf of the consumer.  There’s no one else who can. 

We’ve been waiting a decade for progress that has not come.  We’ve had the debate. Now let’s have the vote.

 

Showing 14 reactions

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  • commented 2016-09-25 22:09:50 -0500
    I think it’s really sad that the Tennessee legislature has made municipal broadband illegal, and sadder still that the USPO wasn’t seen as the proper framework for creating a national broadband network as a public utility, rather than a for-profit scheme.
  • commented 2016-09-23 06:24:35 -0500
  • commented 2016-09-20 13:23:38 -0500
    Vote YES for Broadband, One Touch Makes Ready! Council members need to quit catering to the quibbling “who has been the most or least cooperative” and define the rules and deadlines for making broadband available. This is true capitalism and to not provide those you represent with options is not in consumers best interest…even if it means taking on AT & T’s attorneys…then do it. Fight back for us because we deserve another option to the current two providers. Comcast has a horrific record of poor customer service and refusal to correct billing which is consistently increased by products not ordered, etc….which is not really relevant to issue…but please VOTE YES to broadband and allow Google to enter metro market!
  • followed this page 2016-09-19 22:10:47 -0500
  • commented 2016-09-19 15:21:44 -0500
    Comcast and AT&T are just wanting to stall the vote so that they can lock up customers with contracts. (They have both contacted me to attempt to get me to sign with them. Not going to happen.) Let’s vote and pass the bill. Let Google get on with giving us truly high speed internet! The service that AT&T and Comcast didn’t want us to have until Google announced they were coming to town.
  • followed this page 2016-09-19 14:58:17 -0500
  • commented 2016-09-19 13:52:33 -0500
    Still not clear on why the wires need to be moved, nothing ever mentioned as to why. I have no doubt Google’s competitors are in no rush to make room for them to complete the tasks. DO NOT postpone the council vote, vote YES and let’s get on with it!
  • commented 2016-09-19 11:31:16 -0500
    YES! Let’s do this!!
  • commented 2016-09-19 11:29:14 -0500
    Thanks for the clarification. We need to move on One Touch Make Ready NOW!
  • followed this page 2016-09-19 10:44:22 -0500
  • followed this page 2016-09-19 09:42:57 -0500
  • followed this page 2016-09-19 08:59:23 -0500
  • commented 2016-09-19 08:53:59 -0500
    Let’s make this jump forward to make Nashville even greater than it is. It’s time to wake ATT & Comcast up. This will only make them better in the future as competition always cause’s advancement.
  • commented 2016-09-19 08:51:18 -0500
    YES to One Touch Make Ready!

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