There is a fundamental debate based on principles.
On the one hand I am averse to "government going into business".
We have seen several government based telecommunications initiatives that start off with great fanfare (ie: one government in Georgia laid a fiber ring for sale of access to local businesses - only to fall behind as the incumbent telecom carriers offered "Carrier Ethernet"). The (local) government is not able to draw upon the capital markets to fund expansion and updates like a publicly traded telecommunications company can.
On the other had - there are small to mid-sized cities around Georgia that are "islands". While AT&T (formerly BellSouth) covers the majority of the state - there are some areas in the corners of the state that don't have the population density to justify the business case for installing fiber facilities.
If the local residents put forth an initiative to leverage their collective resources to install telecommunications facilities that will bring them faster Internet - there should be no blanket barrier to their doing so.
I think that the best way to handle this is to force the municipality to create an "Authority" - separate from the city but which receives funds from the local government - if they chose to do so.
In the world of telecommunications there are:
- Access Circuits - to the house
- Distribution Circuits - which aggregate a community's "access circuits" and carry it to the central office
- Trunk Circuits - which carry the traffic back to the large city (likely Atlanta) for access to the larger realm of the Internet
The municipal authority is likely to have to link up with the incumbent AT&T (or Comcast which has cable television & Internet trunks and distribution circuits or even Verizon which may have its own fiber in Georgia to carry its cellphone traffic) in order to carry its Internet traffic to the greater Internet - it is in both party's best interests to negotiate some type of interchange agreement.
In the case of the local carrier - in this case AT&T - that same city which did not have enough customers to justify investment in a state of the art copper/fiber hybrid network - just became even less attractive as the municipal competition threatens to reduce its "take rate" for subscribers even further.
For the municipal system - again - what gets installed as a state of the art network must be maintained and upgraded. Over time, many times, they are not able to keep up.
I believe that it is reasonable for the state of Georgia to lean on AT&T to take some of the revenues it obtains from the Atlanta/Savannah / Augusta markets and invest in resources in other places that are less viable from the perspective of population density.
Install the high speed trunk lines and distribution lines.
Initially allow the municipal authority to install the access circuits - AND - consider LOCAL WIRELESS ACCESS as a more efficient means of providing coverage than "copper / fiber to the house".
Over time - it might be in both party's advantage to have the "mega telco" purchase the assets of the municipal system outright in order to manage and upgrade the system sufficiently.
INSTEAD OF BLANKETLY PROTECTING EITHER INTEREST AND SAYING "NO" OR "YES" TO EITHER PARTY - A STRATEGY TO ACHIEVE A FAVORABLE END OVER TIME SHOULD BE PROMOTED.