Tennessee is one of 20 states that have restrictions on municipal broadband networks, enacted to protect private Internet service providers from competition.Now, though, there are four bills in the Tennessee House and Senate that would “un-do some of the restrictions previous legies put in place several years ago,” broadband industry analyst Craig Settles wrote yesterday.
“This kind of reversal is practically unheard of,” he wrote. “What’s more surprising? Republicans lawmakers, typically the party that leads the charge against public-owned networks, are taking the lead on many of these bills in Tennessee!”
ISPs aren’t happy about this, naturally. “We are particularly concerned about four bills that have been introduced this session,” Tennessee Telecommunications Associations chief Levoy Knowles said in an announcement.

The TTA claimed to be presenting “concerns of rural consumers” but are more worried about the potential of losing customers. “These bills would allow municipalities to expand beyond their current footprint and offer broadband in our service areas.

If this were to happen, municipalities could cherry-pick our more populated areas, leaving the more remote, rural consumers to bear the high cost of delivering broadband to these less populated regions,” Knowles said.

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