The people of Opelika, Ala.--at least, 18 percent of the registered voters--have spoken: They want a city-owned telecommunications system.
Apparently trusting or supporting politicians more than local cable provider Charter Communications, 62 percent of those voting approved a referendum setting up Opelika Light and Power's creation and operation of a smart grid system that includes cable television and all its applications. Only 2,819 of the city's residents cast ballots; not every one of them was happy with the outcome.
"I am saddened that some of Opelika's citizens didn't think this through a bit more," Eric Peatman, a member of the loosely configured Concerned Citizens for Opelika told the oanow.com website. "There's no need for the government to get into the cable business."
The victors, of course, disagreed.
"It's a great day for Opelika. It's a great day for our future. It's a terrible day for Charter," said Mayor Gary Fuller. "We heard the cry of our citizens about competition for Charter and know the importance of this to economic development that this fiber and high-speed Internet will provide as well as the value of improving our existing smart grid system."
The next step is to develop system specifications and then bid the project. The referendum results also cast doubt on the possibility that Knology could step in and provide a second option to Charter as both the company and some dissident citizens had suggested.
Charter claims it can one-up Opelika, Ala.'s fiber network
Opelika smart-grid telecom company plan no slam dunk
Consumers clamor to be heard among service provider din