Write your State Senator and Representative and ask them to support three broadband access measures and to oppose statewide cable franchise legislation pending in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Here's the Senate directory and here's the House directory.

Here's what I wrote:

Dear Sen. Finney and Rep. McCord:

I urge you to vote against and actively oppose SB1933/HB1421, which eliminates local control of cable franchises, regulates local franchise fees, restricts or eliminates customer service and quality standards, provides state regulation of local public right of way for the benefit of cable companies, restricts or eliminates local build-out requirements, and allows cable companies to create statewide franchises.

Contrary to claims of the lobbyists who wrote it, this legislation is not good for consumers or for local governments who know best what is needed in their communities and which areas are underserved. Local governments have a duty to maintain infrastructure rights of way for the benefit of all citizens and taxpayers in their communities.

I urge you to vote for and actively support the following three bills that would help expand broadband access in Tennessee. Broadband access, and particularly rural broadband access, is vital to our economy in terms of availability for businesses relocating here and maintaining a qualified workforce, and will also help cure the "digital divide" between poor working people and the more affluent.

HB2100/SB1572 would establish a non-profit "Tennessee Broadband Access Corporation to facilitate the deployment of broadband technologies across the state."

HB2103/SB1716 requires "the department of economic and community development to establish a ConnectTN program to bring statewide broadband expansion."

HB2099/SB1580 "Expands the membership of the Tennessee Broadband Task Force to include a representative of the department of education and requires the task force to submit an assessment of the state of broadband deployment on an annual basis."

---

Here is more background on the issue.

UPDATE: Sen. Raymond Finney responds and says he will vote against SB1933 that would allow statewide cable franchises. Regarding the other three bills to help expand broadband access, he says he hasn't studied them sufficiently to make a decision but that he will.

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seaowl's picture

Rural Access

I feel that high speed internet access should be available to all Americans at a reasonable cost. It is especially important to rural areas that are now underseved. With the advent of exciting new applications like telemedicine, e-government and distance learning it is crucial that everyone in America has access. We are the leading nation in the world but currently we are 16th in terms of the percentage of residents with broadband access. What we need is a National Policy (like most other countries) that will create public-private partnerships in each state to promote the deployment of high speed broadband networks. The ConnectKentucky project is a great example, but why not ConnectAmerica?
For more ideas check out (link...)

Michael's picture

I feel that high speed

I feel that high speed internet access should be available to all Americans at a reasonable cost. It is especially important to rural areas that are now underseved.

And who should pay for the infrastructure to serve those who have chosen to live in these rural areas?
~m.

CE Petro's picture

Take Action

I checked into the website Keep It Local Tennessee, that has been advertising on TV lately, about the ATT legislation. You had already posted the Facing South piece, and I meant to pass this onto you earlier.

They have a handy-dandy take action and petition. I filled out the action form, and emailed it a few days ago to Burchett and Campfield, and lo and behold, I got a response from Campfield.

Number9's picture

Heads up...

The first time Randy put this post up I didn't give it enough concern.

After this mornings "Inside Tennessee" program I thought I should spend some time and learn what this is all about. Rob Frost was a guest on "Inside Tennessee" and had concerns about the bill. Blogger and radio host Terry Frank said it was a good idea and supported it. Guests representing the cable side and the AT&T side both gave their positions.

If you have any interest in this topic you can view "Inside Tennessee" later today on the cable rebroadcast. I think the time is 5:00PM.

I wish WBIR would get around to have an Internet archive of "Inside Tennessee" like WATE does with "Tennessee This Week". Katie, that sure would be helpful.

Here is the problem, after watching WBIR I don't know who to trust. The AT&T representative basically implied the Cable lobbyist are lying through their teeth, but not in those words of course.

Today's Knoxville News Sentinel has a column praising the AT&T bill as a way to lower cable television prices through competition. There is also a column criticizing the AT&T bill from State Senator Tommy Kilby. It is hard to tell who is lying. Maybe it isn't so much lying as it is carrot and stick. The question is who gets the carrot and who gets the stick?

Does anyone out there know what the truth is on this bill?

Mark Harmon's picture

Cable Committee tomorrow

I intend to introduce a resolution at tomorrow's meeting of the Knox County Cable Committee. It will urge state legislators to oppose the ATT bills SB 1933 / HB 1421, and to support the broadband bills mentioned in Randy's post.

The political situation here is a bit odd, as the cable folks who destroyed local rate regulations twice (1984 and again in 1996) now are on the side of enforcing franchise rules. But you take allies where you can get them. The Tennessee County Services Association and advocates for public access channels also oppose the ATT bills.

I'll also approach CTV and the committee about some sort of Creative Commons or related approach to copyright on commission meetings.

Mark Harmon

Wayne's picture

Cable companies

It seems by today's article in the KNS that the Big Cable has spent as much and probably more than AT&T.So much for AT&T being the only one with evil lobbyists trying to get their way. Question: What is big cable afraid of? I can understand some of the local government argument but, it seems Bg Cable is USING them and their lobbyist as well.

Wayne's picture

Cable Companies

A little research turned up a bill proposed and supported heavily by Big Cable allowing STATE WIDE FRANCHISING of voice service. Funny how now that traditional phone companies want to compete for video customers this seems to be unacceptable to Big Cable. If my cable company can offer me phone service there is no reason my phone company can't offer me cable service. It's clear Big Cable has split the market in Knox County in order to protect their (Charter and Comcast)territory. If any other business operated this way it would be criminal. Most all homes have phone lines so the basic infrastructure is there. Fair competition NOW.

Wayne's picture

silence

Your silence is deafening.

ultron's picture

So I'm supposed to root for

So I'm supposed to root for AT&T? Excuse me if I don't get too worked up about all that.

R. Neal's picture

silenceSubmitted by Wayne

silence
Submitted by Wayne on Wed, 2007/05/16 - 5:26pm.
Your silence is deafening.

Who's silence is deafening? Mine? Because I've been working on actual business and haven't had time to blog?

Who do you work for? What's your agenda? I'm guessing the KNS has been representing your side very well for the last couple of days. Aren't you satisfied with that?

You have to come to some backwater blog to get to the last three people on earth who haven't heard that AT&T will increase competition and provide everybody in the state with broadband, free porn, and a pony if these anti-free-market nanny state legislators would just wise up and pass their bill?

Wayne's picture

cable companies

I can assure you I do not work for any Telcom or cable company. I'm sorry that I interrupted the free flow of ideas that only agree with you. I have some new arguments that have not been looked at such as the apparent collusion of Comcast and Charter in order to split the business in Knox County.

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