FCC Votes to Preempt State Broadband Laws

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday (Feb. 26) along party lines to preempt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that limit expansion of municipal broadband, citing its authority under the Sec. 706 mandate to insure advance telecommunications services are being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner.

The order preempts geographic limitations on the expansion of municipal broadband systems in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., though it does not compel any action on either. The decision does not affect laws in other states, but signals how the FCC might act on similar petitions, which are expected from other municipal broadband providers now that the FCC has fired this shot across the bow at state broadband laws.

The cities of Chattanooga and Wilson asked the FCC to preempt their limiting state laws, saying that without those restrictions, they are willing and able to expand their gigabit service to surrounding neighborhoods that had asked for it.

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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.