Montana Governor Mandates Neutrality in Broadband Contracts

Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has signed an executive order that means suppliers of government broadband services must not block orthrottle web traffic or engage in paid prioritization, essentially restoring the net-neutrality rules the FCC rolled back last month.

Bullock signed the order in front of computer science students at his old high school, saying: "There has been a lot of talk around the country about how to respond to the recent decision by Federal Communications Commission to repeal net-neutrality rules, which keep the internet free and open. It’s time to actually do something about it."

Bullock called on other governors to follow his lead.

Related: States File Petitions to Undo Internet Rules Rollback

The governor's order stipulates that to receive a contract from the state, a broadband provider "must not block lawful content, throttle, impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of internet content, engage in paid prioritization, or unreasonably interfere or disadvantage the users’ ability to select, access, and use broadband internet access service."

The Helena, Mont., newspaper Independent Record was reporting that the state has about $50 million in contracts with providers that include Charter Communications, CenturyLink and AT&T.

The FCC's net-neutrality regulation rollback preempts state attempts to write their own internet regs, but a spokesperson was not available to comment on how that would apply to the executive order.

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.