dslreports logo

A Municipal Failure
Georgia town's adventures in broadband
by Karl Bode 02:58PM Monday Apr 28 2003
Though it hasn't happened often, one municipal broadband provider in Georgia apparently wanted to develop their own broadband network and wound up befuddled and nearly bankrupt in the process. The town of Trion, Georgia, about 75 miles northwest of Atlanta, invested several million dollars in a municipal network for a town with a population of roughly 1,997 people. Unfortunately local residents ran out of patience before completion, and the town burned through its cash reserves. The town is now looking to sell the network; either as a large system or in smaller pieces, and blames the whole thing on the town's last mayor. "I think . . . the mayor got a wild hair," says one local resident. "He thought he could put in a cable company and it wouldn't cost as much [as Charter was billing]. He just wasted a whole lot of money."

topics flat nest 

Slave To The Duopoly


It doesn't sound (from the article anyway) that a feasibility study or business plan was done. At least they didn't do a full buildout, and then it failed. Serving just City Hall doesn't count as a "full deployment", yet I'm sure Comcast and SBC will try to spin this as a completed failure.

Leesburg, GA

Re: Research


My town of Leesburg, population 2000, roughly 160 miles south of Atlanta, doesn't need a municipal network.

We have DSL, cable, fixed wireless and fiber optics. Talk about wired wilderness.


Batavia, IL

Muni Broadband Operations come in two flavors.

They either get off of the ground and completely kick butt(500+), or they die on the runway(2). I wonder if this muni had any experience in electrical distribution prior to their trying this. It sounds like this wasn't a well planned endeavor.
[text was edited by author 2003-04-28 17:01:18]

Donuts-Is There Anything They Can't Do?
Englewood, CO

See - broadband ISN'T for everyone!

Dear Residents:
Na-Na-na-Na-Na-na! We told ya so! We told ya so! We told ya so!
Your friends at Charter and BellSouth

P.S. Please watch your mailbox for our next rate increase.

Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you. - - Carl Gustav Jung

Slave To The Duopoly

Re: See - broadband ISN'T for everyone!

Dear Customers:

Would you like that increase this moth or next month? What the hell...we'll give you the increase both months...


The Incumbents

Draw Me A "Cold One"
Premium,ExMod 2002-04
Fort Lauderdale, FL


I'd like to know who was responsible for the planning and deployment of this operation. There should be a full accounting for this project, complete with a disclosure of where every penny went.
Anything that ever was, was once a dream...

Donuts-Is There Anything They Can't Do?
Englewood, CO

Re: Who?

Agreed. The bozos who designed and “deployed" (I use the term loosely) this debacle should have had sensible business and build plans before they got out their crayons and tax maps. From the article it seems they figured if they got city hall connected to Floyd’s barbershop and the general store, they were on their way.

Sounds more like their Yugo broke-down in the fast lane of the information superhighway…

Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.


Santa Rosa, CA

too small of a town

well the population was way too small to generate enough money from taxes to build the network.. plus not all of em is gonna get connected.. i think thats where it went wrong.. municipal will be sucessful only if its a city and alot of subscribers per square mile..


Pittsburgh, PA

Re: too small of a town

For the small population and amount of homes involved for the physical distance of the town I think somebody really needs to account for the $4 million.

I think they could have done it. I think the wrong people were in charge of the project. You can do a lot with a little money (well $4 million) but some really poor planning looks to be at fault.

It is also sad to see them come so close just to quit. It sounds like they have a good portion of the equipment and other work done.

Atlanta, GA

I have a feeling...

...that this venture was doomed to failure as soon as the eldest city councilman asked, in a meeting of the town's leaders...

"So? What's all this I hear about the World-Wide-Ether-Ma-Net? 'splain it to me!"

Hate to see it happen to such a small town. Around the metro-Atlanta area, local governments need to conserve every penny they can to keep from going under.


Agent 86


1 recommendation

Nothing beats the thrill

of spending other people's money.

"They voted on Thursday and started digging on Friday"


Tucker, GA

Re: Nothing beats the thrill

Unfortunately, the AJC articles says 99.9% of the Trion residents were against the project. I would offer that the 0.1% that was for it were the city concil and mayor. Must be nice getting your car washed and making the city pay for it as mayor.

Medina, OH
·Armstrong Zoom ..

1 recommendation

I've heard this one before...

So the project was poorly conceived, poorly researched, poorly planned, and poorly managed?

I've seen many failed projects like this before. Ah yes, politicians do like to have a popular cause, but that does not ensure success, only hard work and careful planning can do that. It sure sounds like someone had a good idea, sold the idea to others and then found a contractor who was more than willing to do a "design and build" project, on a pay as you go basis.

They did not starve this project for funds. For the money they spent, the city should have gotten a working system up and running in much of their area. That's why it has mismanagement all over it.

Muni broadband has great potential and is a proven model, when done thoughtfully and properly. Stupidly executed projects like this just provide fodder for the incumbents, their lobbyists and PR flacks. Incumbent utilities will use tout this failed project for years to come, as "proof" that muni broadband can't work, ignoring all the successful efforts in communities nationwide.
Macy Hallock APK Net, Inc. Cleveland, Ohio
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - Bill Gates (1955-Present) in 1981

[text was edited by author 2003-04-29 04:19:05]


Owens Cross Roads, AL

my co-op works fine

I live in a rural Alabama but there is a telephone co-op that provides phone, cable (not internet), and dsl (and ISDN at one time). Maybe its not the same thing. I get good rates and service. I would not have broadband if the co-op didn't exist.

Bristol, CT

It does work

Last time i checked the city of Monroe, Ga (My old hometown) had its own utilities network that included electricity water gas and cable television, and they just recently started offering cable internet to all of its customers too. So "proof" that it cant work will always be offset by proof that it can.

This is taken from the homepage of the city of monroe.

"Also attracting both individual and corporate customers is the Monroe Utilities Network; Monroe's community-owned, full-service utility company providing Monroe, Walton County, and Oconee County residents a wide range of services including; water, electricity, gas, sewer, cable TV, and high-speed Internet. Additionally, the Monroe Utilities Network provides a citywide broadband fiber optic system typically found only in larger metropolitan areas."

It can and does work, the Monroe Utilities Network has been established for decades. »www.monroega.com/

Bristol, CT

also forgot...

Also look at their cable television prices. Probably the lowest in the country. »www.monroeutilities.net/pages/Ca···0TV.html

Bristol, CT

one more thing

Comcast, Adelphia, Charter, and yes even Cablevision with your lame capped access, Stick it where the sun dont shine because municiple broadband and cable television is going to OWN you in the future!!

Tucker, GA

Looking at the numbers

Their $4 Million surplus dwindled to $400K. That's $3.6 Million thrown away, essentially for the 2,000 residences in Trion, or $1,800 per resident. It sounds like they could have offered a $25/resident/month subsidy (for 6 years) to their residents and just allowed Charter, who was already there in Trion, do the job.

I cannot imagine what kind of dum bass, hehe, would allow the mayor to attempt such a foolish scheme without direct experience in this area of technology.