Raising the Speed Limit

July/August 2008, by Alexei Smirnov, businesstn.com

Pulaski turns to its public utility to turn on the broadband tap

Jay Raney, proprietor of Media Graphic Design in Pulaski, is a
professional graphic designer who has been in business since 1999. But
until recently, his Internet bandwidth was stuck in 2004. Up until a
year ago, Raney had to settle for a DSL connection offered locally by
BellSouth successor AT&T and cable provider Charter Communications.
Because most of his clients are out-of-state, Raney was forced to slug
through sending and receiving high-resolution images at speeds inferior
to those enjoyed by teenagers in Hong Kong.

E-mail any rural community in America, and you’ll hear similar tales of
the lack of interest from telecom companies in providing
fiber-to-the-home Internet service. Sitting on hundreds of miles of
fiber-optic lines in urban areas, the big telecoms tend to consider
small communities insufficiently profitable propositions. Pulaski was
no exception.

"It’s been our experience in rural Tennessee that we don’t get the
top-notch technology until the private sector can make a profit on it,"
says Pulaski Mayor Dan Speer. "I don’t agree with that."
Speer, who has been mayor for 20 years, believes the city must have a
true broadband service to advance economically. And because for-profit
service providers weren’t stepping up to the plate, Pulaski took
matters into its own hands. Preliminary studies began in 2000, followed
by a 2002 city council resolution that encouraged the Pulaski Electric
System to go into the broadband business. After a $5 million investment
in infrastructure and deployment of fiber-optic cable across town, PES
Energize was launched last March.