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MORE DELAYS FOR MEMPHIS NETWORX

MORE DELAYS FOR MEMPHIS NETWORX

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The fate of Memphis Networx has shifted from Memphis to Nashville and the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA), as Time Warner Communications backed off a bit in its opposition to the proposal Tuesday. More delay seems likely, as the telecommunications venture seeks dual approvals of the Memphis City Council and the TRA. “I don’t think it’s going to be a rubber-stamp process,” Time Warner attorney John Farris said of the TRA approval. Farris told a council committee that Time Warner “will be taking a much lower key, advisory role concerning the franchise requests and TRA certifications.” Time Warner is close to completing a merger with AOL and has its own problems regarding cable access for competitors. Memphis Networx, a joint venture of Memphis Light, Gas and Water and private investors, wants to build a broadband fiber-optic cable network in Memphis. Proponents say it will give Memphis a boost over other cities, but Bill Ray, BellSouth regional director for West Tennessee, questioned that assumption. “I know of no company that has not come to this community because of communications,” Ray told the committee hearing. “We beat Nashville three-fold last year in economic development.” Council member TaJuan Stout Mitchell and others questioned the amount of minority and female participation in the investment side of Memphis Networx. The full council was scheduled to address the franchise question Tuesday afternoon.

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