Government-owned Internet determined to expand territory, despite state law
By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE — A broken fiber line Sunday that caused an outage to the government-owned Internet provider in Clarksville won’t deter the public utility from trying to expand its Lightband Internet services outside the city.
OFFLINE: Clarksville Department of Electricity spokeswoman Christy Batts said the outage will not deter the public utility from trying to expand their Lightband Internet services outside the city.
The outage affected all of Lightband’s 15,000 customers, Batts said.
“As our customer base grows, and hopefully our service territory grows, we’ll have not only the initial bandwidth but the redundant bandwidth needed to support everyone in the event something happens to our primary feed,” Clarksville Department of Electricity spokeswoman Christy Batts told Tennessee Watchdog.
Whether CDE can even expand its Lightband services outside city lines is unclear.
As Tennessee Watchdog reported, state law forbids CDE from expanding outside city lines.
Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, said Monday he has postponed a bill that would have allowed such an expansion, at least until next year’s Tennessee General Assembly session, due to opposition among his colleagues.
City officials paid for the infrastructure necessary to set up the fiber network through bonds, not ratepayer money, as determined by a citywide referendum, Batts said.
“The broadband division, as of today, pays about $4.5 million in what we call cost allocation back to the electric division annually,” Batts said.
Tennessee Watchdog was unable to determine whether Lightband has the majority of Internet customers in Clarksville.
Cathy Lewandowski, a spokeswoman for AT&T, one of Lightband’s two primary competitors in the city, wouldn’t say how many customers the company serves in Clarksville, for competitive reasons.
Tennessee Watchdog could not reach officials with Charter, Lightband’s other competitor, Tuesday.
Clarksville has about 142,000 people, according to the most recent U.S. Census figures.
As Tennessee Watchdog reported Monday, angry customers bombarded the CDE’s official Facebook page with complaints Sunday.
CDE officials are particularly interested in servicing an industrial park outside city lines, one with multi-million dollar businesses.
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