FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a statement yesterday supporting the concept of local authority for community broadband infrastructure. Chattanooga and Wilson filed petitions to scale back state restrictions last summer. In his statement, Wheeler officially recommended the Commission approve the petitions. If approved, the petitions have the potential to liberate local communities from state restrictions.
Along with a number of other organizations that advocate local authority, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance supports Chairman Wheeler who said:
Communities across the nation know that access to robust broadband is key to their economic future – and the future of their citizens. Many communities have found that existing private-sector broadband deployment or investment fails to meet their needs. They should be able to make their own decisions about building the networks they need to thrive. ￼After looking carefully at petitions by two community ￼broadband providers asking the FCC to pre-empt provisions of state laws preventing expansion of their ￼very successful networks, I recommend approval by the Commission so that these two forward-thinking ￼cities can serve the many citizens clamoring for a better broadband future.
Chris Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at ILSR.org and the editor of MuniNetworks.org said:
The Chairman's statement is a breath of fresh air. This approach will allow communities with little or no choice in providers to take control of their own connectivity. When local communities have the authority to invest in publicly owned infrastrucuture without state barriers, more businesses and residents have fast, affordable, reliable Internet access. Even just the possibility of a community network can incent large scale providers to improve their services. We are pleased to see Chairman Wheeler both talk the talk and walk the walk of restoring local decision-making authority.
A statement of support quickly followed from the Georgia Municipal Association: