It is widely held that one of the fastest Internet services in America, if not the fastest, can be found in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They've got speeds that can reach 1 gigabit per second, which is around fifty times faster than the average in the U.S. The high quality of this network has been bringing tech jobs to the area. And yet, a partnership between Big Cable companies Comcast and Time Warner is trying to block expansion of the Chattanooga high-speed Internet service, along with a similar service in Wilson, North Carolina.
It's a good old-fashioned example of anti-competition, in which big players use political influence or legal challenges to keep a market closed up. The twist is that in this case, the new players entering the market with superior service are municipal governments. The broadband services in question are owned by the local governments. The UK Guardian explains that the operation in North Carolina was launched expressly as a result of customer complaints about poor Time Warner service:
Chattanooga has the largest high-speed internet service in the US, offering customers access to speeds of 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average. The service, provided by municipally owned EPB, has sparked a tech boom in the city and attracted international attention. EPB is now petitioning the FCC to expand its territory. Comcast and others have previously sued unsuccessfully to stop EPB’s fibre optic roll out.
Wilson, a town of a little more than 49,000 people, launched Greenlight, its own service offering high speed internet, after complaints about the cost and quality of Time Warner cable’s service. Time Warner lobbied the North Carolina senate to outlaw the service and similar municipal efforts.