Behind the municipal broadband battle

Allan Holmes:

JB: Sounds like it’s a big deal, but fast Internet and slow Internet, those can be abstract ideas so lay things out for me clearly: what can people do in Tullahoma that they can’t do in other parts of the state?
 AH: In Tullahoma, there’s a small startup software company called Agisent, it actually moved from South Carolina to Tullahoma because Tullahoma’s very fast, it’s a gigabit network, one of the fastest in the world. For a town of 18,000 that’s pretty impressive. And also it’s very reliable and that’s what this company called Agisent needs. What they do is they provide a web document management service to police departments, prisons, courts typically; they are small to medium sized departments that can’t afford their own IT expert to manage their networks so that’s really important to them that they can do that in Tullahoma.
 That’s fine for Agisent. But then you go outside of Tullahoma, you just drive like 3, 4, 5 miles outside of Tullahoma into this suburban area where there are some very nice homes, and they don’t have Internet access. They don’t even have AT&T, U-verse or Charter Communications which is another telecom there who provides service in Tullahoma. They don’t serve this area. And ran into a fellow named Matt Johnson, he is an entrepreneur, he started up a company called Road Rage Gauges, which are gauges that you put in your truck or high performance car to measure how it’s performing so you don’t overtax your engine or damage it in some way. What he did was he spent $2,000 rigging up a system so that he could get wireless access, but that’s just way too slow for him. He has clients in China and South Africa and Germany that he has to talk to and when we visited him at his home, this is what he told us about his experience: