Thu
Aug 8 2013
11:36 am

A follow up meeting was held last night regarding the lack of high-speed internet access downtown. Still no concrete solutions. The city says they won't pursue a local government-run solution. AT&T says you can get it if you're willing to pay. The biggest obstacle remains lack of space in underground conduit. One suggestion is to build out along State Street.

News coverage of the meeting at WATE, the Knoxville News Sentinel and Metropulse...

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reform4's picture

Mesh Network?

Perhaps future TIFs can include a requirement to grant the city certain right of ways for cabling and/or the stationing of mesh network nodes atop buildings that receive TIF/PILOT funding?

(link...)

The city should re-examine its position and talk to some other similar size (or even smaller) cities that have done their downtown:
- Denver (downtown)
- El Paso
- Kenosha, WI
- Newton, NC
- Statesville, NC
- Springfield, OH
- Winston-Salem NC

j.f.m.'s picture

We had a good meeting last

We had a good meeting last night. I think everybody felt that the discussion over the last few months has been good in getting the local providers, the City, the Chamber and CBID focused and engaged. But this is a complicated issue and it’s easy to get confused about what’s being discussed or what’s been done other places. Very few cities offer true municipal Internet service – fiber or wireless – to residences or businesses. If you go through the examples on that Wikipedia page, you’ll find that many of them are little more than limited hotspot wireless access in outdoor areas – totally different from the issues being raised in regard to downtown Knoxville. And most of those were installed in the early or mid 2000s, before smartphones and tablets and 3G/4G connections. To run down just the examples you cite:

-- Denver: The Denver link on that Wikipedia page dates from 2009 and is now dead. It was probably a reference to Colorado Wireless Communities (http://newwest.net/main/article/boulder_joins_wireless_gold_rush/), a group of 10 cities outside Denver that were going to establish a group wireless network. I can’t find any reference to that effort after 2009, or any sign that it actually ever got started, but maybe a better Googler than me can dig up more.

-- El Paso: The “Digital El Paso” page seems to not have been updated since 2006 or ’07 (http://www.digitalelpaso.com/faqs.htm), and again there is scant information available. This doesn’t sound good -- http://www.topix.com/forum/city/el-paso-tx/TFEB9GIRP3648MHPC -- but again, maybe someone else can find some more information.

-- Kenosha: This is just a collection of local wifi hotspots -- http://www.kenoshaconnects.com/. Not a municipal wireless system.

-- Newton: Likewise, this is just an outdoor wireless zone: http://www.newtonnc.gov/departments/information_systems/downtown_wifi.php. This doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re talking about in terms of downtown Knoxville Internet access.

-- Statesville: There’s no supporting link for this on the Wikipedia page, and I can’t find anything at all about municipal Internet service in Statesville. If anyone else has any information on that, let me know.

-- Springfield: The only reference I can find is this article from 2007 -- http://www.harborlink.net/News/05-13-2007.html -- which again makes clear this is a limited, outdoor wireless network. I can’t find anything to tell me if it’s still operational or not.

-- Winston-Salem: This is “WiFi on 4th” -- http://www.winstonsalembusinessinc.com/aboutws-technology.htm -- which basically provides wireless access to patrons of restaurants and businesses along one street. Not a downtown-wide network, and again not at all what we’re talking about in terms of access downtown.

I just think it’s important to keep the terms of discussion clear. And we all certainly intend the discussion to continue.

Thanks.

Jesse

Stick's picture

Thanks for the linkage...

Thanks for the linkage... Lot's to process.

Stick's picture

Too bad we can't come up with

Too bad we can't come up with a public option. In old North, we've got the choice of AT&T [painfully slow] or Comcast [not as slow but goes down at least once a week... usually when I really need to work online].

earlnemo's picture

Gene Harrogate shortcut

Run new conduits in the sewers.

metulj's picture

WWGHD?

WWGHD?

bizgrrl's picture

lives in her dream loft in

lives in her dream loft in Downtown Knoxville, but that dream didn't come with easily accessible or affordable Internet connection.

"We are usually paying $300-400 a month for our Internet service,"

Yowsa! I cannot imagiine paying that kind of money, especially compared to the $50 per month we pay for good (knock on wood) cable connectivity.

Mike Cohen's picture

Downtown Internet

I'm all for downtown getting better internet, but I don't see why the public sector should be part of the solution, unless it is funded by the CBID, which is a tax downtown businesses levy on themselves.

bizgrrl's picture

Does the public sector have

Does the public sector have to be part of the solution since the infrastructure is restricted at this time? Otherwise, don't know. For some reason, private enterprise for providing internet services is not interested in downtown. Why not? Cost too much, not enough return on investment?

Mike Cohen's picture

Public/private

It's not unavailable, it's just expensive. I don't see a need for government to jump in and reduce prices. Downtown businesses and residents, for legitimate community reasons, already get way, way more government attention and spending than the rest of us. But making their internet better and cheaper doesn't seem like something I should underwrite.

Factchecker's picture

What about public parking?

What about public parking? Why should government subsidize that? Doesn't it compound transportation problems by adding more cars and drive up land costs by sanctioning its use?

reform4's picture

By that same logic....

.. You should be against all cases of Tax Imcrement Financing (TIFs).

Sounds like a perfect case of "but for" development.

That, or the City needs to help solve the right of way issue (without picking winners and losers).

Mike Cohen's picture

Parking

Public parking seems like a good use of tax dollars to me. It is, for the most part, available to all citizens who choose to go downtown and needed as part of the experience.

Broadband...not so much. Places visited by people seem to have WiFi available for visitors now. The better broadband downtown is just for the benefit of those who live or have businesses there.

Factchecker's picture

Public parking seems like a

Public parking seems like a good use of tax dollars to me. It is, for the most part, available to all citizens who choose to go downtown and needed as part of the experience.

There could be other ways to get downtown if there was more public investment in mass transit. And if there was less parking, there would be more incentive to carpool to work there or bring one car with your friends you're going to meet. This would have traffic, health, time, and safety payoffs beyond the downtown area. Maybe the relative costs/benefits would still allow you to effectively argue for even more public parking and no broadband, but you're making an inconsistent, illogical argument.

Broadband...not so much. Places visited by people seem to have WiFi available for visitors now. The better broadband downtown is just for the benefit of those who live or have businesses there.

First, WiFi is becoming less and less available downtown, at least for free, according to my observations. Businesses are discontinuing it and the growing number of hot spots are mostly secure. Moreover, where do you think this WiFi comes from? Businesses have to bring in high speed Internet from somewhere! Further, broadband is not just for customers' entertainment. It is used for transacting almost everything most businesses do, and becoming more of a requirement in order to compete. It seems like the city would want to lower the cost of doing business in order to lure revenue generating businesses. Again, maybe one could make the argument that it just doesn't pay in the long run to make up the investment costs, but using the popular and misguided narrative that government shouldn't invest because it would interfere with free market capitalism or favor one group over another is weak.

Broadband would improve commerce for everyone who visits downtown by making the businesses people patronize run more efficiently and be more competitive with those in, say, Farragut or Nashville.

SnM's picture

Downtown

Do you acknowledge that downtown's revitalization, 15 or so years ago, was made a priority by the city government, and agree that such continues to be?

If so, then the argument might be that improved Internet access makes downtown more business-friendly (particularly given that startup firm that rely heavily on the Web are often attracted to lively urban areas such as Knoxville's downtown is becoming), which offers the possibility of growing the tax base, increasing the pace of revitalization, diversifies downtown's business base, adds jobs and ultimately pulls more private money into the area.

That *might be* a better use of tax dollars than many of the incentive-package sweetheart deals offered to big-box retailers who may move in 20 years anyway.

Might be. Might not. At any rate, it certainly seems worthy of exploration, and not an occasion for knee-jerk opposition based on rigid political dogma.

Mike Cohen's picture

Broadband

I appreciate your deciding this is knee jerk dogma, but you are wrong. I supported almost everything we have done to draw people downtown, including attracting a movie theater. I support parking and helping fund attractions. I think the tax credits that helped do so much revitalization are fantastic.

I just don't think public spending on broadband for businesses, which are already there and chose to locate there knowing the broadband situation, and private residents, for whom government has no business subsidizing better internet access, is a good use of our limited local government dollars.

We poured money into downtown to make it so people would come. It worked. But if they just want better, faster web access...that is not a government function, especially if it's available but just more than people want to spend.

Again, if the Central Business Improvement District chose to address this with the funds it gets from the CBID tax levy that the businesses downtown chose to put on themselves, fine...that is a pot of money intended for downtown.

I also support the new State Street lower level parking that is being publicly funded for downtown residents, but which they pay for and will repay the debt fairly quickly. Then it is a revenue stream for the city.

Not even opposed to government involvement if whatever they spend is added to the web bill those affected get and paid back, with interest, like a bond. But there is no reason for me as a taxpayer to underwrite improved/cheaper internet for downtown.

R. Neal's picture

I tend to agree

I tend to agree with your "knee-jerk" opinion about municipal broadband and the difficulty of justifying taxpayer funding to fix underserved pockets.

But, replace "broadband" with "electricity." Would you feel differently?

Seventy-five years ago, no business would locate somewhere that didn't have electricity. Nowadays, broadband is just as essential in terms of basic infrastructure.

Plus, before AT&T spent millions lobbying to kill municipal telecom contracts, local governments could regulate coverage. Not so much any more. Which makes the AT&T guy's comments sort of ironic. Plus the protections in local contracts were generally meant to help rural, low-income and minority communities, not major downtown urban business districts.

That's not to say the current administration is responsible for bad previous planning. It appears, though, there's an opportunity for a smartly engineered public/private solution.

Mike Cohen's picture

Addendum

Re: incentives for big box retailers. You can question these, that's fair. I would just point out that generally they are a waiving of property taxes. The government doesn't gain much from retail on property taxes...it's the sales tax where government makes serious money. So if you look at the retail done by an average store of BigBoxChainA, often giving them a break on property tax is smart business.

I support some of these, just as I supported incentives for Mast General and Urban Outfitters. And for the Walmart and Publix near UT.

Mike Cohen's picture

Broadband

Randy:

If there was no broadband I might support helping it be brought in, but that is not the case. It's the speed and the price.

And I don't see a lot of businesses refusing to locate downtown because of it. Downtown seems to be doing the best it's done in decades.

R. Neal's picture

How many corporate HQs have

How many corporate HQs have moved out of downtown?

Mike Cohen's picture

Hdqrts

Not sure how many have left downtown. Kimberly Clark, but wasn't that more of a parking issue?

R. Neal's picture

Plastiline/ImagePoint and HT

Plastiline/ImagePoint and HT Hackney come to mind. Seem to recall others, but basically retail has taken over v. professional/corporate.

And you haven't addressed any of the other points.

Mike Cohen's picture

Response to RNeal

Plastiline went out of business. HT Hackney never had a big presence and I think always planned to put headquarters in with its new faciity, which meant warehouse and trucks....downtown wouldn't work. It was headed for Ritta, but Ritta didn't want it so it ended up in Roane County.

Not sure what else I failed to address. If there was no internet, I would be OK with government involvement in bringing it in, but that's not the case. At all. I don't know of any businesses that have led the charge of this. I could have missed that....can you name some? Law firms? Banks?

If there were internet problems in Turkey Creek would this group be OK with government spending to improve it there?

R. Neal's picture

OK, then.

OK, then.

WhitesCreek's picture

I think you are missing the point, Mike

If you were a developer with an investment in Turkey Creek you would be all over working to prevent any of your competing markets from getting improved broadband. Your argument about speed is like saying an industrial park doesn't need three phase electricity because they already have 220v power. I've seen an industrial park lose tenants because it didn't have high speed internet. Part of the problem was that utilities placed a high pole rental for the cable line that made it untenable to serve the industries. This may have been due to the fact that there was a new industrial park in another part of the county that was in need of tenants. High speed broadband is crucial for any new business.

You want to kill an area, whether it is residential or commercial, you deny it the infrastructure for fast internet service. Things like this have been done in other times in different ways. I saw an area in Atlanta in the late 60's that had the street cops pulled out of it. the drug culture took over the area. Four years later when property values had tanked the mayor decided he was going to "clean up 14h street". When the smoke cleared the mayor's brother had somehow owned all the prime real estate at well below market prices. It's now Peachtree Towers, a super high dollar address in Atlanta.

I'm not saying anything like this is happening downtown but I'm saying it could kill new businesses coming in and encourage existing businesses to leave for faster pastures. One of the first things I hear from residential customers is "Can we get broadband here?" It's even more crucial to business these days.

fischbobber's picture

You nailed it.

+1

SnM's picture

I acknowledge that your

I acknowledge that your position isn't knee-jerk.

I do not think the following is an accurate assessment of the situation, however: "...public spending on broadband for businesses, which are already there and chose to locate there knowing the broadband situation..."

Consider that if the government has a goal to increase downtown's economic viability, but the lack of broadband access discourages businesses from moving downtown, then, again, it seems like the government exploring ways to improve access, possibly leading to the potentialities I listed above, appears worthwhile.

I am not suggesting that public funds be poured into such a venture. I am saying that trying to figure out if something can be done, creatively, to remedy or at least reduce the problem, is worthwhile, and simply opposing the attempt on grounds of "taxpayer money shouldn't be used for such a thing" is unproductive.

The bond idea is interesting.

Mike Cohen's picture

Govt involvement

Scott:

I have no problem with government helping to explore solutions. I applaud them for doing so.

I just don't think they should fund the actual work. And I am not sure you could bond that kind of work...II was more referring to the possibility of the government helping to fund it with the provision that there is a payback through the usage.

SnM's picture

I assumed you meant bond

I assumed you meant bond figuratively.

And re: government involvement: If public money pays for infrastructure and has done so in more recent city developments that provide for needed broadband expansion, but downtown broadband can't be improved because of antiquated/inadequate infrastructure, then it seems government might have some obligation in this area.

See bizgirl's response on infrastructure and R. Neal's comment on electricity for additional reasons why, perhaps, public involvement in this area could be worthwhile and/or obligatory.

Mike Cohen's picture

Broadband

I think this is just one where we disagree.

I see your points, I just don't agree. I don't see downtown businesses stepping up on this issue and don't see a big role for government other than facilitating the discussion. Glad to see them do that.

SnM's picture

Yes, you are correct that the

Yes, you are correct that the bldg owners not stepping up appears to be the crux of the issue. Sorry for arguing a non-point and classifying your position as coming from an inflexible political bent. I should know better, but I almost never do.

SnM's picture

I'm told that the public

I'm told that the public infrastructure really isn't the issue, but rather it is the individual private buildings' antiquated wiring that is the problem. If that's the case, then it is a private property issue, and there would seem little reason for the government to be involved, as Mike has argued.

reform4's picture

That doesn't make sense.

The last 20 feet to the building is the cheapest. That shouldn't be a barrier to Comcast coming in and offering broadband to everyone.

It seems like it has to be a matter of the under-the-street ROW, Comcast not having any, and AT&T having the only ROWs from old telco lines.

SnM's picture

Just repeating what I was

Just repeating what I was told by a reliable source.

But still, as the WBIR video embedded in this commentary suggests, some businesses may indeed be looking to locate or relocate elsewhere because of downtown's connectivity problems (although, given recent charges of boondogglism leveled at 'nooga's high-speed initiative, the report must be taken with a grain of salt):

(link...)

Factchecker's picture

Comcast does not have a good

Comcast does not have a good rep for business service downtown. Do they even do fiber around here? If not, do they want to get into that?

reform4's picture

Infrastructure.

Again, it would seem to be an issue of infrastructure. Cable TV went in on overhead lines when it hit the market, pretty much just into homes in the suburbs, so why pay for underground conduit space downtown. The old TELCOs have that valuable real estate, and they're going to cash in as best they can, since there's no competition.

Over-the-air 4G would seem to be the way to go, but again, you still have to have infrastructure in the area (fiber, towers, etc) and related right of ways.

The problem cries out for a municipal mesh network, using the considerable amount of publicly owned real estate to extend the reach of 'close to downtown' fiber into the downtown area.

Why should the City get involved? In addition to economic development, having a City-owned/administered mesh network for public offices and first responders can serve the City administration itself. Consider the City's interest in 'smart' traffic lights and traffic management systems. Poof. The backbone is there. Upgraded parking meters? Poof, now they have a way to report back to the mothership. Building inspectors need to access records in the field? Poof. Temporary surveillance cameras for a special event? Poof. And those are just the applications we can think of TODAY, much less 5 years from now.

Bill Lyons's picture

Back to Basics: What exactly is the issue at hand?

The whole evolution of the broadband discussion is very interesting. I am not sure what it shows but from our perspective it shows how difficult it is to keep a discussion from morphing upon itself into a number of interesting, but not necessarily factually based threads leading to a variety of fascinating, if impractical options. Today's NS even editorialized about the "problem" today. But that sorta leads us to a first question. What is the problem that actually needs solving? This question seems particularly relevant before tapping into limited public funds, especially in a very big way.

This whole thing started with a question on Facebook about unused fiber downtown. It soon evolved through a bit of Chattanooga Gigabit envy to what appeared to be the most pertinent issue – some sense of a lack of broadband for businesses, and maybe to some degree, a lack of adequate service at a reasonable price for individuals living downtown.

We scheduled a public meeting to begin delving into this matter and deal with all related topics in a public setting. Before we get any further I need to point out that prior to the first meeting and now, months later, subsequent to the second meeting, we have yet to identify one single business that either (1) left downtown or (2) did not come to Downtown because of lack of adequate Broadband Internet. We did hear how AC Entertainment had previous issues at their building but that those issues were solved a number of months ago when the building owner worked with an Internet Provider to provide the needed service.

First, let's talk about what we know we have. There is high speed service along Jackson into the Old City. Folks on the East side of the 100 block have access to high speed service from more than one provider. There is only one provider presently on the West side of the 100 Block. The TVA tower and the Langley Building (previously Kimberly Clark) have very high service. So does Digital Crossing. They provide a major Internet hosting presence. The Arnstein Building is served well enough for BarberMcMurry, one of the area’s largest Architecture firms to move in to 2nd and 3rd floor offices. The KUB Building and Center Square complexes have adequate or greater Broadband. Likewise we have never heard a complaint from anyone in either of the large office towers on the South End of Gay St. There is no issue at the Federal Building or the Bank of American Building or the First Bank Building. The State Supreme Court site will have no problem getting whatever access is needed by the successful developer.

I have asked as many folks as I can along Gay Street about their service, including architects and design professionals and never heard an issue other than the offices on the second floor of the Burwell. Apparently there are issues getting wiring through the theater complex to that building. Even these are not insurmountable, as we understand it.

So yes, there may still be an isolated site or two that suffers because there are full conduits on Gay Street . This causes more work to make connections from other areas. However,from what we can tell, virtually all business locations downtown can get Internet at the speeds they need. I understand how some of this can be confusing from press reports. When Alan Hill of AT&T said that folks could get service if they were willing to pay he was responding to a direct question about Gigabit service. His answer was yes, but that very few folks needed it. And he pointed out that paying for guaranteed constant upload and download Gigabit service rather than “best effort “ or “Burst” was available but obviously costly. I can’t blame this on press coverage of the meeting, which was fine. These nuances are a lot to expect from a story with limited space. I know it is a pain, but there is no substitute for coming to a meeting if one really wants to engage fully in subjects like these. Of course most people cannot take the time to attend. I guess that is why I am taking the opportunity to provide a bit more information.

The meetings were very successful because we were able to reach pretty much universal consensus that citywide fiber paid for by the City or KUB ratepayers as not viable or wise to pursue at this time - for a variety of reasons. What we did do was to get the providers together and arrange for a better system of notification whenever the city streets were under repair so that we could alert providers for possible opportunities to place infrastructure in the street. The Chamber offered to work on creating more of a one stop shop for businesses interested in knowing what providers were available for each building and who to contact with those providers.

Residential service is a bit different. I have no idea where the person paying such the high monthly bill reported on TV resides but my experience and the experience of all with whom I speak is that at least satisfactory residential broadband is available in most buildings. Again, sometimes the issue is that an older building has not had its wiring updated. I do know that some residents downtown live in buildings with Internet bundled into their HOA fees and that can cause what appears to be high prices depending on the building’s HOA deciding to buy and resell to residents.

I live Downtown in Kendrick Place and have access to Comcast and AT&T at the same speeds at the same prices as other customers. My service hardly ever goes down and is such that I regularly stream HD video. A number of residents downtown do not have access to both Comcast and AT&T but again, all those who I have asked indicate satisfactory service and as far as I know they pay the same price for the same service as others pay elsewhere.

Downtown has underground utilities and a lot of older buildings. That leads to some issues at some locations. But any narrative that there is a problem attracting business because of a lack of Broadband simply does not withstand scrutiny. As for residents, folks know the lack of cable at some locations and that their TV and Internet will be provided by satellite and DSL/ UVerse. Some places have substandard internal wiring. Folks factor all of this into their decisions to rent or buy. But most people are at least adequately served and I have not been made aware of any residential or commercial users or potential users who made a location decision on the basis of Broadband or the lack thereof. I am sure that as we move along we will find more and more folks with more and more choices. And we all believe that part of our job is doing what we can to encourage that outcome.

People are not reticent to complain and explain their interest in possibly leaving downtown or concerns about moving their businesses downtown. By far the greatest discussion is - Cheap Parking, Parking not close enough , Guaranteed Parking, etc.

Thanks for your patience if you made it to the end.

Mike Cohen's picture

Thanks Bill

So the answer is that there isn't really a problem, although their appears to be a perception of a problem.

Sounds like those internet providers need better PR.

Russ's picture

I have no idea where the

I have no idea where the person paying such the high monthly bill reported on TV resides but my experience and the experience of all with whom I speak is that at least satisfactory residential broadband is available in most buildings.

She lives on the west side of the 100 Block. Talk to residents and businesses on that side of the street about the lack of broadband. You'll get an earful.

metulj's picture

Anyone who asserts that the

Anyone who asserts that the government should be doing this in anything other than a public/private/edu partnership doesn't understand how the whole friggin internet came about.

Factchecker's picture

So the answer is that there

So the answer is that there isn't really a problem, although their appears to be a perception of a problem.

Sounds like those internet providers need better PR.

The same point could be made about parking, as cwg recently reported in MP.

Slightly OT, it would be nice too if government at some level would tackle the monopoly service providers, not just downtown. Services and pricing would improve if there was some real free market competition. Mostly TV and Internet I'm speaking of. Just outside the city I have no choice but Comcast. Like so much in a land that loves the "free market" mantra, there's a lot of illusion required to sell that particular PR.

Mike Cohen's picture

Factchecker

First off, I was joking.

Secondly, whether there are multiple providers or not, in my opinion, a government function unless government regulations are preventing competition from occurring.

If for "free market" reasons...i.e. there isn't enough potential business for another vendor to come in...that's just life.

If there is no vendor, government should help, which it is doing in many rural areas.

WhitesCreek's picture

As Mike points out, I think this is ...

Another example of the free market simply not working. The internet itself, as has been pointed out, would not exist if it were up to the free market. Neither would universal phone service and rural electric power.

If you are going to be a slave to the free market then please demand that corporations refund the billions of dollars in tax money that has gone to oil companies,TIFs, industrial parks, nuclear power companies, (which would not exist, any of them, if they had to find insurance in the private sector)and so on. I think of the free market as a big dog that runs like crazy and hunts everything it sees. It's wonderful as long as there is a strong fence to contain it so that it doesn't eat the neighbor's chickens.

Ian's picture

The two public meetings were

The two public meetings were a great thing and I’m immensely grateful to all involved. I think the process basically accomplished its purpose in that it got certain concerns to take the issue seriously. What actually comes of it remains to be seen, of course, but I am seeing wheels turning downtown, particularly with AT&T.

I do have a few odds & ends with Bill’s thoughful & comprehensive post (none of which will be news to anyone who’s already heard me blather about it):

“...we have yet to identify one single business that either (1) left downtown or (2) did not come to Downtown because of lack of adequate Broadband Internet.”

I’m not sure how we would hear about #2. If I’m deciding between multiple things, I generally don’t send a memo to the ones I don’t pick. I don’t have any particular reason to think someone’s passed on downtown due to Internet availability, but I’d be cautious about equating it to “it hasn’t happened.”

And I’m fairly certain nobody’s left downtown solely because of Internet access, but I wouldn’t rule it out as an incidental contributing factor, either. I once changed Fort Sanders apartments mainly because I wanted a bigger space, but the much nicer kitchen in the new place sure didn’t hurt in the decision process.

“We did hear how AC Entertainment had previous issues at their building but that those issues were solved a number of months ago when the building owner worked with an Internet Provider to provide the needed service.”

It did get solved. But it took a very long time, and it presently takes a coalition of multiple businesses chipping in to afford the monthly bill. We’re fortunate that we were all able to get on the same page and get it done.

“I have asked as many folks as I can along Gay Street about their service, including architects and design professionals and never heard an issue other than the offices on the second floor of the Burwell.”

Er... I can point you to a WBIR segment, a Metro Pulse cover story, and a lengthy Facebook thread where I’m fairly vocal about coverage at the Tennessee & Bijou Theatres.

That brings the running total to only three, though, so I’ll concur that the point stands. Downtown Knoxville does mostly have adequate Internet, although it’s like a fifty-unit apartment building where forty-seven of them have electricity. The building is mostly wired, but it does legitimately suck iguana balls (assuming iguanas have balls) for the three units that don’t.

I’m not by any means suggesting that it’s entirely the City’s problem to solve, and lord knows you & Rick & Jesse have already given it the benefit of your time and energy with some tangible forward progress to show for it. But it is occasionally difficult for me to appreciate that downtown is mostly squared away when I’m at the Tennessee re-patching switch connections to route enough of its lizard-fellating Internet down to the ticketing system for a busy show-night walkup.

I am looking forward to AT&T’s upcoming announcement about their expansion plans. I know of one building they’re lighting up, and I’m anxious to hear about the others.

Bill Lyons's picture

Thanks Ian. I totally agree.

Thanks Ian. I totally agree. We do have spots that need attention. I am very hopeful that we will soon hear about some real progress on those remaining spots. That progress will very much be related to the increased attention and increased communication that the meeting and discussion process engendered. We also have more providers at the table and have reached out to others such as the folks in Asheville with the wireless solutions you suggested.

What we have is certainly significantly less than optimal but now headed in the right direction. My main concern was correcting the growing narrative that led folks to think that vast ares of downtown were not served and the this was a major factor in businesses leaving or not coming. We can never know whether it had some impact on the margins. In some cases it probably did.

And so everyone knows, Ian contacted me personally about this topic on more than one occasion a number of years ago. We did pursue but just could not seem to make a breakthrough. He has been patient and polite to a fault, while persistent as well. His persistence not only paid off for a solution for AC; it helped focus greater attention on the broader picture.

Thanks again for everyone who has pushed us (especially Art), come to the meetings, and engaged in this topic. Raising questions, working with all the parties, and understanding complexity does have a positive impact. And thanks for this forum for allowing us to to take a bit of time and bandwidth to listen and explain and hopefully not to obfuscate (light-hearted hat tip to SnN as he carries the torch for the almost- as-serious Blab.)

SnM's picture

What an excellent,

What an excellent, thoughtful, helpful exchange between Ian and Bill. Kudos. (And thanks for the hat tip, assuming I'm SnN :).)

R. Neal's picture

Update to the update

WBIR: Dewhirst Properties installed fiber cables throughout the West Jackson Row Apartments, and AT&T will offer U-verse services over a "fiber-to-the-premises" network.

bizgrrl's picture

Why don't they include a

Why don't they include a picture of the streetscape where the West Jackson Row apartments are located?

Will this be another one of those locations that can get high speed internet at a very high cost?

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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.

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