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Small Tennessee ISP Owner: The Government Is Killing Me

July 27, 2016

tn-largeflagIn case you missed it: community-owned Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Tennessee are fighting back against the state government’s, and individual lawmakers’, desire to expand municipal broadband networks. (As the Coalition for the New Economy reported, last week the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development released a report that looked favorably upon government networks.)

William Haines, who owns America Internet & Communications, a small provider based in Chattanooga and founded in 1998, recently wrote a letter to The Chattanoogan taking to task state Rep. Mike Carter for his support of government-owned Internet. Haines argued, “Rep. Carter’s supporters argued he’s standing up for consumers against huge telecommunications companies, but by supporting greater government ownership of broadband he’s really working against small businesses like mine.”

Haines explained that municipal Internet networks “hurt small, locally owned internet service providers like mine that are struggling to provide good service in our neighborhoods and good jobs in our communities.” In the past, Haines has said because of Chattanooga’s government Internet system, run by the city’s Electric Power Board, his company was “basically run out” of the city. His company simply couldn’t afford to compete with the taxpayer-funded infrastructure to which EPB has access.

Haines thinks government should stay out of the Internet business and urged state lawmakers to “preserve reasonable limits on taxpayer-funded broadband networks.” He concluded, “There are plenty of ways for local, state and federal government to work with the private sector to expand and improve Internet service, but first we should agree the goal should be to expand broadband access, not the size of government.”