Business owners lose money when government-owned Internet goes dark

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Posted: Mar 24, 2014 5:42 PM
Business owners lose money when government-owned Internet goes dark

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — Some Clarksville business owners lost a lot of money Sunday when their government-owned Internet went down, and they took their outrage to Facebook.

Things got so heated that Clarksville Department of Electricity Lightband officials warned their own Internet customers to stop posting abusive language on its official Facebook page.

The business owners, by the way, are generally smaller in scale when compared to the multi-million dollar businesses the CDE hoped to serve in an industrial park outside city lines.

CDE: CDE's customers are apparently active on the utility's official Facebook page, as requested.

CDE: CDE’s customers are apparently active on the utility’s official Facebook page, as requested.

Currently, CDE officials can’t legally expand their government-owned Internet outside the city.

Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, told Tennessee Watchdog on Monday he has postponed a bill that would have allowed such an expansion, at least until next year’s Tennessee General Assembly session.

But will CDE officials work harder to improve their service before they can infuriate more business owners, especially those who could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single day without the Internet?

CDE officials didn’t return Tennessee Watchdog’s messages seeking comment Monday.

Jasmine Chavez, who runs the CD Warehouse business in Clarksville, told

Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts

Tennessee Watchdog in an email her business lost about $450 because of Sunday’s Internet outage.

“My first two sales that day both would have been over $100 each had my credit card machine been working,” Chavez said.

“When both customers were told that they had to pay in cash because I could not run their cards they both left and said they would try and come back, but neither of them did.”

Chavez said this isn’t the first time CDE has proven less than reliable.

“We are considering changing providers because CDE has done this to us many times and their constant power outages are ridiculous,” Chavez said.

Other CDE Lightband customers, meanwhile, unable to vent their frustrations on a desktop computer, turned to Facebook via their smart phones.

Webb

Matties

Beerbower

Other angry customers called out for pitchforks as a few CDE Lightband defenders asked for calm.

Many customers complained CDE gave no explanation for the outage, nor were they giving a timeframe for repairs.

Pitts told Tennessee Watchdog his colleagues in the General Assembly didn’t seem to favor the idea of government-owned Internet.

“It’s the perennial discussion that we have every year with these type bills,” Pitts said.

“I think the private broadband providers feel like they’re meeting the needs of the citizens, so they ask why should they allow a public provider to get into the marketplace. I’m presupposing here, but I suspect that’s how it played out.”

Pitts said Sunday’s outage proves Clarksville residents need his bill.

“If I’m a manufacturer in that industrial park and my primary provider of broadband services for telecommunications has an outage much like CDE experienced, then I need a backup source so that I don’t have to stop doing business,” Pitts said.

“What happened (Sunday) isn’t relevant to the bill. The bill was to allow CDE to be a redundant source or the primary source. I would suspect that given what happened (Sunday) some of these business owners may now look for a secondary redundant source.”

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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