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Clarksville Department of Electricity requests to provide additional services

 

Clarksville Department of ElectricityInformation has become the lifeblood of the 21st century. Much like Water, Electricity, and Natural gas. Inexpensive access to data, is something that our city needs to fuel it’s growth in the coming years. Without a modern and reliable data infrastructure we will not be able to attract new businesses to our city, and thus our citizens will miss out on the associated economic opportunities, which new businesses bring with them.

The current providers of these information services, Charter Communications and Bellsouth, have no natural incentives to make the expenditures which are necessary to modernize their systems, and to provide us with the quality and levels of service we require. They have made an uneasy truce with each other, neither wishing to rock the boat by actually competing.

Competition in this vital sector of our economy should be fierce with many different players all seeking to provide us with the most reliable and highest level of service possible. The reason that this is not happening is that FCC rulings have declared that Cable based Internet services are a information service and not a telecommunication service, and other rulings reclassified DSL Internet service as one as well. This removed requirements that they open their networks to competitors. This means that for broadband Internet access and high-end telecommunication services you are stuck with only two cost effective options, cable from Charter, and DSL from Bellsouth.

I have had dealings with these companies and their offerings and have been unhappy with both. The frequent outages, repair times are excessive, businesses are charged punitive rates (The same 3MBS connection that I get at home for 40$ per month would cost a business $200-300 per month), and the prices we pay continue to rise even as their associated costs decline.

The Clarksville Department of electricity wishes to form a telecommunications authority in order to offer these types of services. They propose that they build a city-wide fiber network, fiber optic connections would be extended to all homes and businesses in the city.

They want to do this primarily because they could then check meters, disconnect and reconnect service, and manage other electricity functions from their central office. However, being realistic they also understand that it would also allow them to provide telephone, cable television, on-demand video, video-conferencing, community access TV channels, high speed Internet, and a number of other services some of which are currently not available in Clarksville. This would also bring competition to the currently stagnant local Telephone and Cable TV markets.

The city council voted to allow the Clarksville Department of Electricity to proceed and it passed however, they did not have the percentage of votes in favor that the state requires before they will create the enabling legislation.

I believe that the city council has approved a voter referendum to be placed on the November ballot. Charter Communications, Bellsouth, and their front groups will oppose this, and they will probably attempt to prevent it from happening at all. It is not in their best interest to have real competition occur in our city, their markets. However it is in our best interests. I strongly encourage everyone to vote yes, on this question when the time comes. In the mean time, talk to your friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and your elected representatives, as you can be sure that Charter and Bellsouth will both be talking to theirs.

For some updated information see the Charter Sucks! article


About Bill Larson

    Bill Larson

    Bill Larson is the Creator and Publisher of Clarksville Online, and works as a network administrator for Compu-Net Enterprises. He is politically and socially active in the community. Bill serves on the board of the Clarksville Community Concert Association, and is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.

    You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.

    Email: clarksville@clarksvilleonline.com

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5 Responses to “Clarksville Department of Electricity requests to provide additional services”

  1. Bill Larson Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 3:15 pm
    Bill Larson

    In the interest of clarification, the prices that I quoted for service, were not from Charter cable in Clarksville, TN. Instead they were from Charter Cable in Paris, TN (The company I work for has an office there). So the prices may vary from city to city.

  2. deadzone Says:
    August 16th, 2006 at 7:56 am

    FIghting the good fight I see. I sure hope you guys win and end up building the system. The benefits could be great for the city from a technological standpoint, a economic standpoint, and a competition standpoint.

    Be prepared though. The dirty trick book is long and well, pretty dirty, that the incumbants use. I know, I have seen the Lafayette, LA. Fiber fight first hand. It’s not been pretty. :(

    GOOD LUCK GUYS! :)

  3. plantdaddy53 Says:
    August 19th, 2006 at 12:23 pm

    I have read this article on the CDE wanting to be able to get into the business of offering cable TV, internet services and etc. I have also read newspaper articles and talked to many about their thoughts on CDE doing these things. Questions arise as to their having their own authority, we know all about these authorities, such as the airport authority, using tax dollars to go in direct competition with others, such as bellsouth and charter, and saying they will give them competition, with rate payer money and citizen’s taxes CDE says they want to be able to read meters electronically and help them out in this area. I don’t think it is fair competition for the other guys, unless they get the same priviledges. Government help, as they are asking for. They have sent out flyers in the mail wanting us to call our representatives to vote for their agenda, and whose money are they using to do this? The rate payers money to push their own agenda. They want the city to help them with bond issues to borrow the money, because they can’t, because they are at this time under the management of the city, and in which they need to stay under the authority of the city, and not themselves. Who will determine rate issues and costs of supplying all these internet access and cable tv prices? If we give them the authority, who will they answer to? And when we do this for them, will we not be open to do for everyone else out there? At this point, I could go on and on, but until someone answers more of these questions to my satisfaction and the rate payers and tax payers, I’ll be voting no on the referendum. We all want more of this and that, but we don’t want to be honest with the public in all aspects of the business. We the public usually find out about the real truth, after the fact, and it is to late! I truly believe that until there are good honest answers to the above questions, CDE needs to stay in the business that they are now in, and that is all. To change my mind and many others out there, we need to see the real facts. Sincerely, Dwain J. Etterling-Friends of Clarksville President for the year of 2006.

  4. Bill Larson Says:
    August 19th, 2006 at 4:06 pm
    Bill Larson

    Questions arise as to their having their own authority, we know all about these authorities, such as the airport authority,

    Authorities by themselves are not always a bad thing. Do not take one bad example and claim that it’s always that way. Look at the parking authority and housing authority, both of which function much better.

    I would also point out that the airport authority was not created by the city or county, It was created by state law.

    Using tax dollars to go in direct competition with others, such as bell south and charter, and saying they will give them competition, with rate payer money and citizen’s taxes

    CDE gets no tax payer dollars. They make money from offering the services, this venture into telecommunications services will function much the same.

      CDE does not receive any tax revenue. All revenue received by CDE is from the sale of services. Public power utilities make payments in lieu of taxes that are often higher than private taxes. CDE is one of the largest contributors to city government through in-lieu of tax payments that totaled $1.87 million last year.
    You said:
    CDE says they want to be able to read meters electronically and help them out in this area. I don’t think it is fair competition for the other guys, unless they get the same priviledges.

    What other guys? The Gas and Water Department? I am sure CDE will not object if once the network is in place they wish to utilize it as well. They are the only other metered service in Clarksville, unless you know something I do not.

    They have sent out flyers in the mail wanting us to call our representatives to vote for their agenda, and whose money are they using to do this?

    Their money, not yours. You used the electricity that you purchased from them, at that point the money you paid is no longer yours.

    They want the city to help them with bond issues to borrow the money, because they can’t

    No they want the city to help them fund the initial expansion of a network which already exists, with a long term low interest municipal bond, instead of having to raise your electric bill to cover the debt payment. This is in our interests.

    I am sure this will eventually happen with the authority or not. The only question is how we the citizens of Clarksville, and customers of CDE end up paying for it.

    Because they are at this time under the management of the city, and in which they need to stay under the authority of the city, and not themselves.

    I have not been able to find anything which indicates that CDE is under the management of the city. I can only conclude you are as mistaken in this, as you were on many of the other statements made in your comment.

      The management team has more than one hundred years of experience in the electrical utility field and is complimented by a dedicated and qualified staff.

    You asked:

    Who will determine rate issues and costs of supplying all these Internet access and cable TV prices?

    Probably the same people who decide the electricity rates currently. I have no real complaints on them, I doubt I will on their fees for Internet, Telephone, and TV service either.

    I canceled my Cable TV and my Satellite connection long ago, due to the prices. They were always increasing. Ever notice that when many of these for profit companies raise your rates for their services they directly mirror the rate of increase in the corporate profit statements.

    I had no choice but to keep my cable Internet service, and I can’t wait to switch to CDE’s once they offer that.

    If we give them the authority, who will they answer to?

    They will answer to the same people they do now. They will be just as responsive as they are now.

    CDE has one purpose it’s customers. Unlike Charter Communications and Bellsouth whose sole purpose under law is to make a profit for it’s share holders, even if that means screwing you and I, to do so.

    And when we do this for them, will we not be open to do for everyone else out there?

    This makes no sense what so ever. If you are talking about the bond? They already do just ask Global Entertainment.

    I’ll be voting no on the referendum.

    Then you will be voting now against your wallet, interests, and your community. Some “Friend(s) of Clarksville” you are…..

    Look people it’s simple, Charter and Bellsouth does not have “your interests” at heart, only their shareholders. Only their bottom line. They will spend no more, and no less on our community than they must. Why do you think that the cable service in this community is so bad.

    They will not change until they are forced to. No one will be forced to use CDE’s telecommunications services. I bet many of the residents of the city are excited and eager to though. Don’t let these irrational corporate shills influence your decision on this issue. Let your ever rising cable and telephone bills do that for you!

    Dwain I want to ask you the same question I ask everyone else commenting against this referendum.

    I noticed that you did not disclose your connections with Bellsouth or Charter cable, and based on your comment it’s clear you have them with one or both. I would be interested in hearing about them. Are you a employee, consultant, PR person, stock holder, or lobbyist with either Bellsouth or Charter Communications. Does your group “Friends of Clarksville” have any connection to, or receive any funding from Charter Communications or Bellsouth? I bet your answer would have to be Yes.

    In the interest of openness and complete disclosure, I have no connections with CDE, Charter Communications, or Bellsouth. I am just a Clarksville Resident who has looked at the current options and found them wanting. Vote yes on this Referendum.

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