National Associations File Comments with FCC Supporting the Preemption of State Restrictions on Municipal Broadband

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Several associations that represent the interests of local governments, including the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of municipal broadband networks and voiced concerns with state laws that prohibit or limit their deployment. In particular, the comments support petitions filed by the cities of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, which asked the FCC to consider whether their states’ laws are prohibiting the deployment of high-speed broadband services in a reasonable and timely manner, in violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, because they do not permit the expansion of municipal broadband networks.

The associations’ comments argue that “these barriers will impact a local government’s ability to provide vital broadband services that would stimulate local business development, foster work force retraining, and boost employment in economically underachieving areas. At the very time local governments across America are ready, willing, and able to do their share to bring affordable, high-capacity broadband connectivity to all Americans, state barriers to public broadband are counterproductive to the achievement of national goals of global economic development.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has spoken repeatedly about his desire to tackle state laws that prohibit or restrict the build out of municipal broadband networks. The action brought by the cities of Chattanooga and Wilson provided the Chairman the opportunity to take action.