City leaders support local broadband decisions

City leaders support local broadband decisions

The recent overruling of the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to block states’ laws restricting municipal broadband services sparked an opposing response by city leaders nationwide.

The decision in August came from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, after Chattanooga, Tenn., and the City of Wilson, N.C., asked the FCC for help when the cities’ plans to expand municipal broadband networks to other counties were stopped by their respective states’ statutes.

The FCC argued that the states’ restrictions were a barrier to broadband investment, competition and the overall deployment of broadband services. The court, however, ruled against the FCC and for the states, saying the agency is not authorized to disrupt existing state laws. 

In response, 42 mayors and city leaders have written a letter in support of the broadband expansion efforts of Chattanooga and Wilson. As members of the Next Century Cities non-profit, the cities want to align broadband with local community needs, “instead of being hindered by restrictive, one-size-fits-all barriers sometimes put up at the state level.”

The city leaders expressed their disappointment with the court’s decision, stating it threatens the ability of communities to make their own internet decisions and limits citizens’ access to fast, affordable broadband.

Furthermore, they’re concerned about how the ruling will curtail the expansion of city broadband networks to nearby underserved communities. Whether providing internet access by working with providers, public-private partnerships or municipal-based broadband models, the cities believe they have a right to serve their communities without interference. 

 “We oppose restrictive state broadband barriers that limit the capacity of local communities to thrive,” like those imposed on Chattanooga and Wilson, the city leaders wrote.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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