Internet Service Monopolies In Rural Tennessee

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mr. Bruce Purdy, chief executive of North Alabama Electric Coop, 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your efforts to successfully supply fiber optic internet service to a portion of Marion County, Tennessee. 

As the senior manager of a rural electric cooperative, I am sure you are keenly aware of the impact that modern infrastructure has on the quality of life of the residents of your service area. 

Outdated laws in Tennessee, often touted as “protecting competition” are obviously thinly veiled tools to protect what are essentially monopolies.

In fact, these laws are obstacles to real free market competition. 

These laws are fiercely protected by the monopolies who underserve or refuse to serve Tennesseans who often reside only a few feet from the monopoly’s existing lines. 

Millions of Tennessee residents are being held at an educational, entrepreneurial, cultural and public safety disadvantage by these companies. 

To add insult to injury, many of these same companies receive yearly federal funds to “help them serve these rural areas” by expanding their networks. 

It seems as though these federal monies free up large portions of their own funds to be turned over to Tennessee lawmakers as “campaign contributions”. 

These campaign contributions seem to have more influence on the legislator’s actions than do the needs of the constituents they represent. 

It was reported that at the recent Tennessee House of Representatives Business and Utilities Subcommittee meeting, as many as 27 lawyers and lobbyists were present to ensure that internet service to rural Tennessee communities remains unchanged and inadequate. 

This resulted in five of the eight members of this subcommittee voting with the interest of the 27 lobbyists and against those of 200,000 to 400,000 Tennessee households who are not served or underserved by voting down even an amendment allowing a small test version of HB 2133. 

The Tennessee House of Representatives Business and Utilities Subcommittee members voting with the lobbyists and against rural Tennesseans were Kent Calfee, Martin Daniel, Brenda Gilmore, Patsy Hazelwood and Jason Powell. 

You and your Alabama cooperative have done what these five supposed Tennessee representatives refused to do. 

That being to at least put a dent in the monopolies imposed on us by Nashville. 

I look forward to hearing about the success of the partnership between the North Alabama Electric Coop and Hi-Tech Data LLC. Hopefully Hi-Tech Data will expand their footprint and offer true fiber to the home internet service to all of Marion County. 

Brian Bradford
Kimball Tennessee


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