As I write this, I suspect the "platoon" of lobbyists from AT&T and Comcast in Nashville are waking up with hangovers from celebrations last night after they once again defeated a bill to restore local authority in Tennessee. After a grassroots uprising, we thought the state would finally allow communities to decide for themselves if networks like Chattanooga's famed gigabit EPB would be able to expand.
Color me extremely disappointed - not because AT&T won, but because I fooled myself into thinking this grassroots mobilization might matter.
From the Times Free Press,
On Tuesday at the state Capitol in Nashville, a platoon of lobbyists and executives, including AT&T Tennessee President Joelle Phillips, were present in the House hearing room or watching on a video screen as Brooks presented the bill and the amendment.
It failed on the 5-3 [committee] vote with Rep. Marc Gravitt, R-East Ridge, voting for Brooks' amendment and Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, a one-time AT&T executive, voting against it.
Eight people voted on the bill. AT&T and Comcast formed the majority of the 27 lobbyists fighting against the bill according to Karl Bode.
People in Bradley County have either no service or poor access from companies like AT&T - but Chattanooga's EPB is not allowed to expand due to a state law pushed by the cable and telephone companies nearly 20 years ago to prevent competition.
These are people whose children have to go to libraries or fast food restaurants every day to do their homework. These are businesses that can barely compete in the digital age because AT&T doesn't view modern connectivity in the... Read more