FCC Won't Appeal Muni Broadband Decision

The FCC will not challenge the court decision overturning its preemption of state laws limiting municipal broadband buildouts.

"The FCC will not seek further review of the Sixth Circuit's decision on municipal broadband after determining that doing so would not be the best use of Commission resources," an FCC spokesman said, confirming a comment provided to the New York Times.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler had already signaled his help would probably come via the bully pulpit rather than appeals court. Wheeler, in opining on the court loss, said he would be happy to help an effort to repeal state laws. “Should states seek to repeal their anti-competitive broadband statutes, I will be happy to testify on behalf of better broadband and consumer choice,” he said.

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded recently that the FCC’s authority to promote advanced telecommunications deployment in a reasonable and timely manner did not extend to deciding whether a state or its municipal subdivision gets to control broadband buildouts, unless Congress has explicitly granted the FCC that power.

The push for muni broadband will likely move to the states, with cities attempting to get laws limiting broadband buildouts repealed.

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.