Charter faces new fiber competition in Opelika, Ala.

Sorry, Charter (OTC BB: CCMM), but it turns out that Opelika, Ala.'s residents believe that having an alternative fiber-based broadband player is a good idea.

After Charter tried to convince residents that good old HFC is more reliable than any Fiber to the Home (FTTH) connection, residents voted 62 to 38 to approve the city's $33 million FTTH network. Funded with revenue bonds, Opelika's FTTH network will leverage an already-built core fiber ring from the local electric utility and services from, interestingly enough, cable competitor Knology.

Opelika's Mayor Gary Fuller heralded the vote with a slight jab to Charter. "It's a great day for Opelika. It's a great day for our future. It's a terrible day for Charter," Fuller said. "We all worked very hard on this," Fuller said in a statement. "We heard the cry of our citizens about competition for Charter and know the importance of this to economic development that this fiber and high speed Internet will provide as well as the value of improving our existing smart grid system."

Of course, opposition to this project is far from over. The Concerned Citizens for Opelika, a group that's been opposed to the proposed FTTH network from the start believes Knology (Nasdaq: KNOL), which is applying for a cable TV franchise in Opelika, is the more appropriate competitor to Charter.  

"There's no need for the government to get into the cable business," said  Concerned Citizens for Opelika member Eric Peatman. "The city basically wanted a blank check for this project and it appears they now have it."

Then, there are the incumbent carriers, including Charter, who will likely, as opined in Broadband DSL Reports, file numerous lawsuits against the town's efforts. And if the Opelika project fails to become profitable, the incumbent service provider can then can say, 'I told you community broadband projects don't work.'     

For more:
- Broadband DSL Reports has this post
- see video of Opelika's mayor announcing vote

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