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City should have waited to revoke FTTH charter

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opinion Rosemount, 55024
Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

We can understand the Rosemount City Council's frustration with Fiber To the Home, the cable, telephone and Internet company that got its start in 2000 with the construction of the Evermoor development and eventually made plans to expand throughout the city. The company had promised to expand its service area in phases, but year after year it failed to deliver.

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It was that lack of progress, despite repeated promises, that ultimately led the council to continue with plans to revoke the company's charter Tuesday, effectively taking FTTH out of the cable business. The council voted for the revocation in July, but had given FTTH 90 days to notify its customers.

We get it. But we don't agree.

Council members made their decision this week despite a recommendation from city staff that they wait another 30 days. Despite the fact the company might be sold in the near future. Despite the fact the company that made all those promises might leave town all on its own, with no city action necessary.

There is no guarantee, of course, that the new owner would be any better than FTTH at getting things done. There isn't even any guarantee the sale will go through. But revoking the charter, which any company must have if it wants to offer cable television service in Rosemount, makes the company a lot less attractive to anyone who might be interested in buying it.

Losing a cable television option is bad for Rosemount residents. It removes competition for existing companies. And while FTTH had failed to deliver on its promises to bring that competition citywide a new owner might have followed through.

Waiting would not have caused problems for the city. Council members would not have been making any promises to either FTTH or its prospective new owner. They would only have been taking a break to do their homework. If they didn't like what they saw from the potential buyer, they would have been able to pull the charter in a month. They'd be in the same position they're in now. But they would have taken one more chance at making sure those promises had been kept.

We think that would have been the right thing to do.

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