Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City of Chattanooga Municipal Power Company Brings High Speed Internet and Economic Development

A Government Serving Citizens and Business – That Can’t be Right

The belief that government is always worse at something than the private sector is the myth by which Conservatives live.  As a result they want to outsource prisons, outsource education and outsource about everything else to private profit making companies even when the services are better provided by government.  So what if the quality is lower and the cost is higher as long as the project is philosophically correct.

Case in point is high speed internet access.  Google some time ago decided that it would provide an American city with one gig per second service, and ultimately chose Kansas City, or at least part of Kansas City.

Ultimately Google decided on Kansas City, and next month it will start providing its blazing-speed internet for $70 a month.

But that service will not be available to all Kansas Citians. Instead, Google has divided Kansas City into 204 districts (which it annoyingly insists on calling “fibrehoods”), has invited consumers who want the one-gigabit service to register in advance, and will deliver service to the 46 areas with the highest concentration of interested consumers. 

Chattanooga, Tennessee has a municipally owned power company, which in itself is an affront to Conservatives.  But even worse, that power company all on its own is providing Chattanooga with high speed service.

EPB of Chattanooga, the municipally-owned electricity company, branched out into telecoms service a little over a decade ago and soon afterwards decided to modernise the city’s power grid. Starting in 2008, with the help of $111.5m in federal stimulus funds and another $169m raised through bonds, EPB laid over 6,000 miles of fibre-optic cable. The network became fully operational last spring; it covers EPB’s full service area, roughly 170,000 homes and businesses in urban, suburban and rural areas, and it delivers video and telephone service as well.

Wow, here is Tennessee which hates the federal government, hates the stimulus and yet here is also a great success story.  And things just keep getting better.

Harold DePriest, EPB’s boss, estimates his company’s video and internet division will become profitable this year. Mr DePriest’s case for building Chattanooga’s fibre network (and the reason EPB received its stimulus funds) had nothing to do with residential users; instead, that network forms the backbone of one of America’s most extensive municipal smart grids. And Chattanooga, a little manufacturing city that 40-odd years ago had America’s filthiest air, is reinventing itself as a haven for tech entrepreneurs—a “Silicon Holler”.

One can easily imagine Conservative outrage at this success, it is conclusive evidence that their philosophy is flawed.  So at some time in the future Conservatives in the state will try to privatize the entire operation, getting worse service at higher costs.  But at least they will be able to remove an example of where good government works, and really, that’s all that matters.

1 comment:

  1. "Silicon Holler". Lol, just brilliant my friend! And, yes. It will make their heads explode. That is, until they sell it and, as you allude, pay more for lower quality service. Damn idiots!