Judge Nixes Va. Town's Overbuild

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A Virginia federal court has axed plans by the city of Bristol to compete
with Charter Communications Inc.

Judge James P. Jones of U.S. District Court for Western Virginia ruled Dec.
12 that state law prevents cities from conducting any kind of telecommunications
business.

Although he questioned the "19th century" legal formulation on which the law
is based, Jones said he must abide by it, and he advised the city that its only
remedy is a legislative change.

The court enjoined Bristol's power utility in November from firing up its $15
million fiber optic network. Charter has about 18,000 subscribers there, and it
spent $77 million to upgrade.

Jim Baller, an attorney for the city, said an appeal of the issue has yet to
be determined.

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