Many people, when in the market for broadband subscriptions, can only pick from telephone or cable providers, but President Obama wants local governments to be able to provide broadband services to citizens too.
A report released by the White House says the president wants to “end laws that harm broadband service competition,” and this would seemingly start in 19 states which restrict their governments from offering broadband to citizens.
“Laws in 19 states—some specifically written by special interests trying to stifle new competitors—have held back broadband access and, with it, economic opportunity,” the report reads. “Today President Obama is announcing a new effort to support local choice in broadband, formally opposing measures that limit the range of options to available to communities to spur expanded local broadband infrastructure… the Administration is filing a letter with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging it to join this effort…”
While big tech companies, such as Comcast, will surely fight this as they have in the past, this new push by the president is lawful. According to the New York Times, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated the FCC had the power to strike down state laws which could hinder the ability to invest in the state’s infrastructure, which includes Internet infrastructure.
Two states have already filed complaints to the FCC on similar grounds.
Tennessee and North Carolina have petitioned the FCC to preempt state laws which forbid those state’s local governments the ability to construct their own broadband networks and provide their citizens with the Internet. According to Recode, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, is expected to make a ruling on these two cases soon.
The new push from the president does not stop at allowing local governments to provide their own broadband services to the community.
The report also says the president wants to establish a “Broadband Opportunity Council” which will have the “singular goal of speeding up broadband deployment and promoting adoptions,” for all citizens. The public will also be able to bring grievances related to “unnecessary regulatory barriers” with concern to their broadband, before the council, which will address the issues.
According to ARS Techinca, President Obama believes the community-based broadband services could boost the competition and ultimately help Internet users. “In markets where private competition is anemic,” said the president, “towns and cities can build their own middle-mile networks and offer competitive access to the private sector… municipalities are creating more choices for consumers, fostering competition and creating opportunities for economic growth.”