FCC: Cities Can Override State Laws To Build Municipal Broadband
Credit: Steve Rhodes
February 26, 2015

Via The Verge just now, a vote to preempt state laws in two cases that has set an important precedent:

Before it tackles net neutrality, the FCC is setting a major precedent for municipal broadband: it's just voted to preempt state laws that were preventing two cities from building out their own locally run broadband networks. The decision was prompted by separate petitions from Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee — both cities that've established high-speed, gigabit internet services, but have been barred from expanding to neighboring communities due to existing state laws. So far, 19 states have similar regulations to those that the FCC is overriding in Wilson and Chattanooga, but today's ruling affects only those two specific cases.

THE VOTE AFFECTS ONLY TWO STATES, BUT SETS A HUGE PRECEDENT
Even so, the FCC's 3-2 vote will serve as a landmark moment that other communities will point to as they try to compete against commercial ISPs and knock down those deeply restrictive state laws. "There are a few irrefutable truths about broadband," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler ahead of the vote. "One is you can’t say you’re for broadband, and then turn around and endorse limits." The commission has decided that Tennessee and North Carolina are needlessly preventing the "reasonable and timely deployment of high-speed internet access to all Americans," a senior FCC official said during a press call a few weeks ago. It's not hard to see the exact same logic being applied elsewhere when other petitions are brought forward.

If you're wondering where the FCC gets power to make these decisions, it's claiming that states are getting in the way of its authority — granted under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act — to promote the deployment of broadband across the US.

Can you help us out?

For 17 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.

Discussion

New Commenting System

Our comments are now powered by Insticator. In order to comment you will need to create an Insticator account. The process is quick and simple. When registering you will also be presented with the option to tie all your old Disqus comments to your new Insticator account. Please note that the ability to comment with a C&L site account is no longer available.

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.