Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Metro Council Passes Resolution To Study Broadband Innovations

Metro Council, by a vote of 21 to 12, just voted last night to approve:

A resolution establishing a Task Force on Telecommunications Innovation to explore and report on the feasibility of using Metropolitan Government resources in a network that is available to the public using broadband technologies, broadband over power lines, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, and other wireless applications, end-user fiber build out, and other telecommunications technologies.

I was amazed that the dissent to the resolution was hair-triggered, with dissenting council members not seeming to understand the difference between voting for a "study/report on" the feasibility of establishing a broadband network and voting for establishing a broadband network.

Council member Carolyn Baldwin Tucker basically deconstructed her own dissent by saying that she went online (would that be using nashville.gov's client-server application?) to do some research on the matter. Council member Jamie Isabel extended the confusion--of doing a study vs. establishment of a network--by arguing in dissent that public schools will have a $40 million shortfall next year and that municipal broadband would cost upwards of $40 million, so appointing a task force to explore the possibilities and limitations of a broadband network would be taking money away from our children.

But my favorite dissenting opinion came from Council member Jim Gotto, who said that he had done some research on a couple of towns in Iowa who had bad experiences installing municipal broadband. One of those towns was Muscatine, which had to sell off its broadband network after starting it at a net loss, according to Mr. Gotto. Apparently, his research was not exhaustive enough to include the exact pronunciation of the Iowan town, as he haphazardly gave the council two possible pronunciations based on his own admitted ignorance of the precise pronunciation: "Muscatahne" and "Muscateen." He also failed to mention that Muscatine--the self-proclaimed "pearl button capitol" and the producer of something called "corn wet milling"--has only 23,000 residents, making it hardly worth comparing to cities of Nashville's size.

Thankfully, the knee-jerk dissent did not prevail last night, and we will have a study of broadband possibilities.

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