Comcast Division Files Suit In Tennessee

A Comcast division in Tennessee has taken up the legal challenge against a competitive video build in Chattanooga, filing a county lawsuit against the municipal utility in Hamilton County.

The action by Comcast of the South, filed April 22, comes one week after the court in neighboring Davidson County dismissed a substantially similar lawsuit by the state's trade association, the Tennessee Cable and Telecommunications Association.

The Davidson County judge ruled that the suit was improperly filed in his county, adding that the trade association was the wrong party to sue. The association would not be damaged if the municipal utility launches a competitive business, but an incumbent cable company might, he indicated.

Comcast of the South has asked the Hamilton County Chancery Court to stop the fiber-to-the-home project planned by the Chattanooga Electric Power Board. Cable operators allege that the build, as approved, does not accurately state the cost to build and operate a telecommunications plant, meaning the project will have to be cross-subsidized by utility rate payers.

Cable companies allege this will violate state law. Comcast also asserts that, as a city entity, the EPB has access to low-cost loans, giving it a commercial advantage.

"Our intention is to ensure that EPB complies with the Tennessee Cable Act and that Comcast be allowed to compete in a fair environment. Due to this pending litigation, we can't comment further," said Valerie Gillespie, vice president and general manager, Comcast of Chattanooga, in a prepared statement.