TN: City Council Moves Closer To Backing AT$T Bill

Posted on March 22, 2008 - 9:54am.

from: The Chattanoogan

City Council Moves Closer To Backing AT&T Bill
Littlefield Says He Welcomes Cable TV Competition
posted March 18, 2008

The City Council is moving closer to backing a bill sought by AT&T allowing it statewide franchise rights leading to development of a cable TV system.

The council heard an endorsement from Mayor Ron Littlefield, then directed that a resolution of support be prepared for later action.

Mayor Littlefield said some concerns he had about the bill appear to be cleared up.

He said, "Competition levels the playing field and allows our citizens to enjoy lower prices and better service."

Mayor Littlefield noted that AT&T may not be happy about EPB also moving toward a cable TV venture, but he said they "have not resisted it. And, they haven't filed suit against us." He apparently referred to Comcast, which is fighting the EPB proposal in court.
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Mayor Littlefield said he earlier had concerns about control of utility rights of way. Patsy Hazlewood of AT&T said, "It does not change city control of rights of way in any way."

She said the city would be getting up to five percent of revenues paid on a quarterly basis as a franchise fee. She said typically AT&T picks up over 20 percent of its customers from satellite providers, and she said that will be new revenue to the city.

Councilman Leamon Pierce said he had concerns about the large equipment boxes that AT&T's U-verse system requires every 3,500 feet. Ms. Hazlewood said those would be placed along with existing AT&T equipment whenever possible.

The County Commission is also being asked to endorse the bill, which faltered in the Legislature last session but is gaining more traction this time.

Ms. Hazlewood said AT&T would spend up to $400 million in developing the cable TV system in Tennessee and create 2,000 jobs.

( categories: AT&T | State Franchises | TENNESSEE )