The FCC has found that it has the authority to remove aspects of Tennessee and North Carolina law that limit local authority to build or expand Internet networks. In short, states seem to retain the authority to restrict municipalities from offering service at all. However, if states allow local governments to offer services, then the FCC has the power to determine whether any limitations on how they do it are a barrier to the deployment of advanced telecommunications services per its authority in section 706 of the Telecommunications Act.
The FCC has removed a restriction in Tennessee law that prevented municipalities with fiber networks from expanding to serve their neighbors, per a petition from Chattanooga.
In North Carolina, the FCC has removed multiple aspects of a 2011 law, HB 129, that effectively outlawed municipal networks by presenting local governments with a thicket of red tape, including territorial restrictions on existing networks. The city of Wilson had petitioned the FCC for this intervention.
Listen to our podcast with Jim Baller about this decision.
See the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Press Release on the Opinion and Order for more. If you don't want to read the full order, we pulled out some key paragraphs and sorted them for your benefit!
Key Paragraphs in the FCC Decision
We selected some of the most important passages with references to the original Memorandum Opinion and Order. Look for these passages as you read the original FCC doc [PDF].
Communities Around Chattanooga and Wilson Need Better Connectivity:
43. Numerous commenters favor preemption because they wish to obtain service from EPB or Wilson but are unable to do so, and the maps and data discussed above illustrate that communities surrounding EPB’s and Wilson’s current areas of broadband service have far fewer choices for advanced telecommunications capability than the national average. This suggests that further expansion could generate improved levels of investment and competition in these locations. (pp 23-24)