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As Big As Net Neutrality? FCC Votes To Kill State Imposed Internet Monopolies...

As Big As Net Neutrality FCC Votes To Kill State Imposed Internet Monopolies Fast Company Business Innovation


As Big As Net Neutrality? FCC Votes To Kill State Imposed Internet Monopolies

Critics say the laws against municipal broadband were passed to protect big ISPs, not to ensure competition as proponents claim.


Steven Melendez

With Internet connections orders of magnitude faster than are available in many larger American cities, Chattanooga’s public fiber optic broadband network has been the subject of press coverage and an object of envy around the world.

But as the city’s Electric Power Board, which operates the network, has sought to expand broadband coverage across its region of Tennessee, it’s run into opposition from a surprising source: state lawmakers, who, under pressure from large private Internet providers, have barred local governments and public utilities from offering broadband outside the areas where they have traditionally sold electricity.

But on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines to override the state law, in order to level the competitive playing field between the city's municipal network and those of incumbent providers like Comcast and Verizon. The decision could lead to similar challenges in the roughly 19 states that limit local governments looking to set up broadband networks.

"The bottom line of these matters is that some states have created thickets of red tape designed to limit competition," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, explaining his support for the ruling. "When local leaders have their hands tied by bureaucratic state red tape, local businesses and residents are the ones who suffer the consequences."

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One two punch!

Good news for Google Fiber, which can now compete. 

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