by Jeff Taylor
That’s what concerned locals called it when an arm of the Tennessee Valley Authority set up its own broadband network in Bristol, Virginia. What do we call it when Bristol Virginia Utilities is vying to run an $80 million cable system for Mecklenburg County and the northern towns?
How about brain dead.
Plans to have a county-led consortium purchase and operate the old Adelphia cable plant are steamrolling ahead, evidently impervious to outside influence. If this thing is a done deal, Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts needs to step up and say so and quit with the drama.
If not, there are still very basic questions that need to be answered about this deal, such as the precise path for upgrading the old and busted Adelphia plant and who, exactly, will provide in-field support for the main lines of the system. It would also be nice to know how BVU, which runs a fantastically expensive fiber-to-the-home system in Bristol which, according to a 2004 Progress and Freedom Foundation study, relies on subsidies from the water and electric side of the biz, is remotely in position to help manage Adelphia’s old system.
In sum, this move stinks to high heaven even if Time Warner was not standing by to provide the exact same service — probably better — to 16,000 county residents without government spending $80 million in scarce dollars on a CATV system.