Menu
City-funded broadband just lost a big fight in court

City-funded broadband just lost a big fight in court

A U.S. appeals court has struck down an FCC decision meant to protect municipal networks

Some city-funded broadband networks may be in trouble after a U.S. appeals court struck down Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibited states from restricting those projects.

The FCC has no authority from Congress to prohibit state laws that limit municipal funding of broadband networks, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said in a decision released Wednesday.

In February 2015, the FCC voted to overturn laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that limited the expansion of existing municipal broadband networks. Many incumbent broadband providers have opposed municipal funding of competing networks and pushed for state laws prohibiting them. In some cases, those city networks are faster and cheaper than what the incumbents are selling.

The FCC cannot change state law without specific authority from Congress, Judge John Rogers wrote in Wednesday's decision.

The FCC has argued that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 authorities the agency to promote broadband deployment and that the 2015 vote does just that. 

Wednesday's decision "appears to halt the promise of jobs, investment, and opportunity that community broadband has provided in Tennessee and North Carolina," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in an emailed statement. "I believe the commission’s decision to champion municipal efforts highlighted the benefits of competition and the need of communities to take their broadband futures in their own hands."

In the last year and a half, more than 50 U.S. municipalities have taken steps to build their own broadband networks, Wheeler wrote. "The efforts of communities wanting better broadband should not be thwarted by the political power of those who, by protecting their monopoly, have failed to deliver acceptable service at an acceptable price."

The free-market think tank TechFreedom applauded the court's decision. "It took enormous chutzpah for the FCC to try to preempt state broadband laws, so this is a well-deserved rebuke for an agency run amuck," Berin Szóka, TechFreedom's president, said by email.

The court case has been a costly distraction from efforts to make broadband deployment easier, Szóka said.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments