We are supportive of the announcement today from the Federal Communications Commission. We salute the FCC for beginning to examine how state level barriers against municipal networks deter investment in the networks both communities and the nation desperately need.
From the statement:
The Commission will look for opportunities to enhance Internet access competition. One obvious candidate for close examination was raised in Judge Silberman’s separate opinion, namely legal restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer broadband services to consumers in their communities.
The FCC has a history of encouraging states not to pass such laws (Commissioner Clyburn, previous FCC Chair, former Commissioner Copps) and the National Broadband Plan made recommendation 8.19: "Congress should make clear that Tribal, state, regional and local governments can build broadband networks."
Even if communities choose not to build their own networks, having that capacity changes the dynamic of the big cable and telephone companies - something Franklin D. Roosevelt described as the "birch rod" in the cupboard (regarding municipal electricity):
But on the other hand the very fact that a community can, by vote of the electorate, create a yardstick of its own, will, in most cases, guarantee good service and low rates to its population. I might call the right of the people to own and operate their own utility something like this: a "birch rod" in the cupboard to be taken out and used only when the "child" gets beyond the point where a mere scolding does no good.
With the recent network neutrality decision from the Circuit Court, the FCC has a very clear path to ensure all local governments can decide locally whether such an investment is wise, rather than being preempted by a state legislature that...Read more