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Rep. Eshoo Proposes Bill Backing Muni Broadband

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill to restore communities' ability to provide municipal broadband.

The bill, Community Broadband Act of 2016, was introduced in the wake of an appeals court decision striking down the FCC's preemption of state laws limiting those buildouts.

“I’m disappointed that a recent court ruling blocked the FCC’s efforts to allow local communities to decide for themselves how best to ensure that their residents have broadband access,” Eshoo said in introducing the bill. “This legislation clears the way for local communities to make their own decisions instead of powerful special interests in state capitals.”

The bill says that "No State statute, regulation, or other State legal requirement may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting any public provider from providing, to any person or any public or private entity, advanced telecommunications capability or any service that utilizes the advanced telecommunications capability provided by such provider."

The legislation is a blast from the past, patterned after one introduced in 2005 by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded 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.

Eshoo is looking to provide that explicit grant.