Thursday, February 26, 2015

FCC Preempts State Prohibitions on Municipal Broadband

The FCC voted to preempt state law in North Carolina and Tennessee that restrict or ban municipalities from expanding broadband service outside their current footprints despite numerous requests from neighboring unserved and underserved communities.


The FCC noted that it acted on behalf of the Electric Power Board (EBP), a community broadband provider in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina.In addition to providing electric service, both operate broadband networks providing Gigabit-per-second broadband, voice, and video service.The networks in both areas have attracted major employers, including Amazon and Volkswagen in Chattanooga, and Exodus FX, Regency Interactive, and WHIG TV in Wilson. Wilson’s system also provides free Wi-Fi downtown.Tennessee law allows municipal electric systems like EPB to provide telecommunications services anywhere in the state, but limits provision of Internet and cable services to the electrical system footprint. In North Carolina, a 2011 law imposed numerous conditions that effectively precluded Wilson from expanding broadband into neighboring counties, even if requested. One condition, for example, restricted expansion into areas where the private sector delivers service at speeds as slow as 768 kbps in the faster direction – an archaic standard that fails to support modern needs and is a fraction of the FCC’s 25/3 Mbps benchmark.

http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-preempts-laws-restricting-community-broadband-nctn

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