Monticello, Minnesota telecom lawsuit dismissed

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 13:15

A lawsuit filed by the incumbent telephone company in Monticello, Minnesota sought to stop the city from building its own fiber to the home (FTTH) network. The project was designed as a public/private partnership, with Hiawatha Broadband Communications, another Minnesota telecom firm, signed up to operate the system and provide services.

Yesterday, the 10th District Court in Minnesota dismissed the case, finding that the city had the right to issue bonds for a telecom utility and that the city had the right to operate a telecom utility.

The Court went into some detail about the meaning of a "public convenience," as there is a Minnesota law on the books that gives municipalities the right to own and operate a "public convenience." Part of the lawsuit alleged that a fiber network was not a public convenience, but the court has said that it is.

This ruling applies only in Minnesota, but it still may have some influence in other states. Monticello was particularly lucky, as the case was resolved in less than a year. Courts have generally found in favor of municipalities, but the cases often drag on for years.

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