Bill Would Preempt State Laws Limiting Municipal Broadband

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Gary Arlen)

A bill has been introduced in Congress by a trio of Democrats that would remove "roadblocks" to municipal broadband buildouts by preempting state laws limiting or preventing those buildouts.

Also Read: New Bill Would Allow Overbuilding of 1 Gig Service

The Community Broadband Act would "ensure their residents have broadband access by removing roadblocks for public-private partnerships and locally-owned broadband systems," say its co-sponsors, Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

It "nullifies state laws that inhibit local governments from building their own broadband, preserving the local right to self-determination in connecting communities."

“Our bill will help give local governments the necessary flexibility to meet the needs of their residents by removing onerous barriers to creating more municipal broadband networks and expand access to the internet for every community," said Booker.

Also Read: Public Knowledge Says Congress Should Allow Overbuilding

ISPs are historically concerned that those buildouts will be built out with subsidized capital in competition to existing commercial broadband and leave taxpayers holding the empty bag in the instances where those fail to become ongoing operations.

They have put their lobbying muscle where there interests are, backing a number of bills that rein in what they see as potential municipal broadband overbuilding.

The Democrats cite bills in nineteen states, which they saw are a case of ISPs shielding themselves from competition and tying the hands of local communities that want to built out to areas private companies "refuse to connect."

Also Read: Bill Would Prevent State Efforts to Limit Muni Broadband

The new bill is backed by Public Knowledge, Access Now, the National League of Cities and a number of others.

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.