Wheeler Praises Municipal Broadband Partnership

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who has said municipalities ought to be free from state regs limiting their ability to offer broadband, used the announcement of a new 1 gigabit effort to make that point once again.

"Congratulations to Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) and ITV-3 on making gigabit services over fiber available throughout the community," Wheeler said in a statement. "This public-private partnership provides a valuable model for communities and companies throughout the country and a demonstration of the creativity that is stimulated when localities are free to work with the private sector to improve broadband offerings."

Wheeler has promised that the FCC will take steps to preempt state regs that limit cities.

"We must use all the tools at our disposal to encourage competition wherever it is possible," he told a House Communications Subcommittee panel in prepared testimony May 20. "One place where it may be possible to encourage competition is municipally-owned broadband systems. I understand that the experience with community broadband is mixed, that there have been both successes and failures. But if municipal governments want to pursue it, they shouldn’t be inhibited by state laws that have been adopted at the behest of incumbent providers looking to limit competition."

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.