States can no longer restrict city-run broadband internet

Today is one of the more momentous days in the FCC’s recent history. Its net neutrality vote will get most of the press attention, but its moves to protect municipal broadband from state legislators are also quite important. The proposal adopted today is narrowly focused, but it could have huge implications. What the regulator has decided to do is preempt state laws that seek to restrict the spread of city-built broadband networks in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina. But the agency also reserved the right to intercede on behalf of municipalities on a case-by-case basis if it thought that local or state governments were getting in the way of improving competition and spreading access to broadband internet.

The Electric Power Board (EPB) in Chattanooga built a gigabit fiber network for residents, and other areas surrounding the city want to be able to tap into the service. These rural and suburban neighborhoods usually only have one (terrible) choice for broadband, or none at all. The problem is that the state government of Tennessee requires that the EPB only operate within the city limits. The situation is similar in Wilson, where the county also rolled out a high-speed network to offer citizens a choice in internet service provider, where previous there was none.

Today’s decision means that Tennessee and North Carolina can not prevent cities or counties from building their own networks. But more importantly, it also removes barriers from expanding those networks to neighbors. Dissenters on the commission predictably invoked state rights. And some, like commissioner Michael O’Rielly from New York objected to the very idea of any government entity offering broadband. He opened his own dissent by saying the proposal, “highlights the unprecedented lengths the commission is willing to go in undermining the free market system, federal statutes, the US constitution and common sense in order to try and dictate where, when and how broadband is provided.”

Chairman Tom Wheeler, in his own remarks, said that “some states have created thickets of red tape designed to limit competition.” He reiterated the commission’s mission to promote the spread of broadband and competition and said that the FCC was voting to cut away much of that red tape.

Today’s vote broke along party lines, suggesting this fight is far from over. Today’s ruling applies directly to only Tennessee and North Carolina. And with Republicans taking control in the house and senate, it’s entirely possible that we could see federal restrictions imposed on the FCC’s ability to intervene in future dust-ups between states and municipalities over broadband.

via States can no longer restrict city-run broadband internet.


About steventorresramos

I have over (24) years of Computer Aided Drafting & Design experience and over (16) years of IT experience. After graduating high school I attended a Technical College and earned an Associate Degree in Drafting & Design. I then enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico where I earned an A.S. in Civil Engineering Technologies. While attending the Univ. of Puerto Rico I worked as a freelance Drafter for a variety of architects and engineers. During my senior year I began to work for the firm Planning Management & Development in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Two years later I was offered the position at Mario Corsino & Associates, which later became InterGroup a medium size Civil Engineering, Architectural and Planning firm in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. At InterGroup I became assistant chief drafter where I was responsible for 20+ drafters & civil techs, and this is also where I began my IT training. In 2000 I decided to move to St. Petersburg, FL where I was hired as CAD Manager at Advanced Engineering & Design a small Civil Engineering firm established in 1998. Currently still employed by Advanced Engineering & Design I’m now the CAD/IT Manager. I have also continued to expand my knowledge base in both the IT & CADD fields through continued training, certifications, and attending Autodesk University. I’m currently an Autodesk Certified Professional proficient in AutoCAD, Civil 3D and various other Autodesk products. I have been the President of the Tampa Bay Autodesk Users Group (TBAUG) since late 2007 and a member of Autodesk Users Group International (AUGI) since 1996. I have an A.S. Degree in Computer Networking , a Bachelors of Applied Science in Technology Management and currently finishing work on my Masters in Computer Information Systems. I’m a licensed drafter in the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and a Microsoft Certified Professional. I hold certificates as a Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Server Administrator, Cisco Networking Associate Professional and Linux Administrator.
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