Cable Giants Try to Limit Cities' Internet Service

US Telecom targets Chattanooga, TN, and Wilson, NC

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 30, 2014 4:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – Municipalities, take note: A group representing cable giants like Time Warner and Comcast is pressing US officials to stop two cities from expanding high-speed Internet services, the Guardian reports. Those cities—Chattanooga, TN, and Wilson, NC—are already providing unusually fast 1GB-per-second service to residents. Chattanooga's broadband helped trigger a tech boom, and Wilson's reached people who were complaining about the quality and cost of Time Warner service. Now each city wants to expand service into a wider area, the Wall Street Journal reports.

US Telecom's lobbyists are urging the FCC not to let cities work around laws designed to protect private broadband companies (20 states have such laws, the Verge notes). US Telecom is also arguing in a blog that public broadband has "a mixed record, with numerous examples of failures"—and it's true that a group of Utah towns had to sell its service to Google for $1 after failing to make enough money. So, is municipal broadband anti-competitive? Cable companies say subsidies give cities an unfair leg up, while cities argue that they are improving competition in their areas. (On the lighter side, read about the Comcast "call from hell.")

In this Dec. 3, 2009 file photo, a sign outside the Comcast Center, left, is shown in Philadelphia.
In this Dec. 3, 2009 file photo, a sign outside the Comcast Center, left, is shown in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
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