CWA Calls for State Public Utility Broadband Regulation

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Gigi Sohn, former counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, will headline a Communications Workers of America (CWA) briefing Monday (April 12) calling on states to regulate broadband in the absence of FCC net neutrality regs.

Sohn was an evangelist for Wheeler's bright-line net neutrality rules, which were reversed by the FCC under Republican FCC Chair Ajit Pai against the wishes of current acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel. Sohn is also a name that surfaces when there are openings for FCC commissioner, as there is currently.

Once there is a Democratic majority on the FCC, it is expected to try and reinstate  federal net neutrality regs, unless a Democratic Congress beats it to the punch.

But following the FCC's elimination of the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, action on that front moved to the Hill and the states.

Also Read: Sohn Says FCC Authority Is Key to Net Neutrality Regulation

CWA says that while the Biden Administration's infrastructure/jobs package has $100 billion for broadband, it will also take state-level accountability given what it says have been "decades of industry-driven deregulation has left consumers without recourse when their service is poorly maintained or nonexistent."

CWA wants public utility commission oversight of broadband providers deploying broadband with all those billions to ensure "resiliency, public safety and consumer protection."

California is arguably the poster-state for local laws regulating broadband, but CWA will also highlight efforts in Colorado and New York. Also scheduled to speak at the press conference is New York State Senator Sean Ryan, who has sponsored the New York Broadband Resiliency, Public Safety and Quality Act.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.