FCC Opens Public Comments On State Laws Banning Municipal Broadband Operations

July 29, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said last month that, given the chance, he would take the opportunity to closely examine state laws that prevent communities from owning their own broadband. Now with two complaints filed with the FCC from North Carolina and Kentucky, the FCC has decided to ask the public what it should do with a public comment period.

Around twenty U.S. states have passed laws that either prohibit or limit cities and towns from building and operating their own broadband networks. Critics of these laws say that state lawmakers are in the pockets of lobbyists and trade groups that work for the telecommunications industry.

"On July 24, 2014, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina filed separate petitions asking that the Commission act pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to preempt portions of Tennessee and North Carolina state statutes that restrict their ability to provide broadband services," the FCC said today. "The Electric Power Board is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga that provides electric and broadband service in the Chattanooga area. The City of Wilson provides electric service in six counties in eastern North Carolina and broadband service in Wilson County. Both Petitioners allege that state laws restrict their ability to expand their broadband service offerings to surrounding areas where customers have expressed interest in these services, and they request that the Commission preempt such laws."

The FCC opened two proceedings - one for a complaint in North Carolina and another for a complaint in Tennessee. Initial comments will be accepted until August 29, and reply comments will be accepted until September 29.

You can read the FCC's statement on this important issue here (PDF).

Source: Ars Technica


Comments

Re: FCC Opens Public Comments On State Laws Banning ...

I guess my question is... why AREN'T municipalities allowed to start up or expand their own broadband internet service offerings? The only possible argument I can see against this is that a municipality is then competing with a corporation and this is a conflict of interest. This is laughable, given that the likes of Comcast, TWC, and others do their damnedest to kill any competition and actively go out of their way to avoid each other, winking and nodding from across their boundaries as they split up the country. Guess when the shoe is on the other foot, they don't find it quite so amusing.

Re: FCC Opens Public Comments On State Laws Banning ...

For the same kind of reasons why they aren't normally allowed to open up their own gas stations or grocery stores for the public to purchase product from them, to prevent the local/state/federal government from impeding on private business competitiveness.

Of course, companies like Shell, Walmart, Comcast, and Starbucks kinda took out their competition and thus the need to be competitive themselves without the government's (direct?) help. And they need, whether they think it or not, someone to come into the picture to give them a reason to offer better services and jobs.

Edit: also, on top of the reason I gave, companies have managed to convince politician to get laws enacted that prevents any sort of loopholes that the government could use.

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Re: FCC Opens Public Comments On State Laws Banning ...

I say let the towns have the power to run their own service. It isn't like they're going to beable to compete in terms of speeds that companies like Comcast and what not could be offering. Though if a town does manages to do that, either

A, the town has a lot of money to be spending on this kind of thing. Or

B, maybe the companies aren't respecting the customers enough to get them up to speed for modern times.

Eitherway, this is something that can be used as a form of competition for those companies that hold a monopoly in areas, that have no desire or incentive to expand the area's capabilities.

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Re: FCC Opens Public Comments On State Laws Banning ...

I live in one of the poorer counties in north Carolina and just before that stupid law was passed the town was working on free broadband for the neediest school kids in the county and of course they get fucked over by whorish politicians selling their votes to corporations.

Re: FCC Opens Public Comments On State Laws Banning ...

So these kids have to schedule their schoolwork around when the library or school is open, but I doubt they can be open much due to budget cuts.

 
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