FCC Sending Encouraging Signs on Community Broadband

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  • Dale Eisman

Growing signs that the Federal Communications Commission is poised to put its muscle behind the development of community-owned and operated broadband networks are uncommonly good news for Internet users, Common Cause said today.

“We’re hopeful that the Commission will stand up for consumers and against attempts by state lawmakers to protect Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from community-based competition,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport. “Approval of this proposal would signal that the FCC is committed to rules – including strong net neutrality protections — that ensure that every American receives the fastest, highest quality Internet service at the lowest cost.”

“What a great step approval would be toward bringing broadband to every American,” agreed former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, now serving as special adviser to Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “We built this country with federal and community partnerships for vital infrastructure, and what’s more vital than broadband for the 21st century?  A big high-five to Chairman Tom Wheeler and the colleagues who have joined him to push this move.”

While attention today is focused on state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina, at least 20 states have attempted to block or limit the development of community broadband. Those efforts have been pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of state lawmakers and corporate representatives that lobbies for business-friendly bills – often drafted by the companies directly affected — in statehouses across the country.

A report by Common Cause and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on industry attempts to stifle development of a popular community broadband network in Wilson, N.C. was cited by the Obama administration last month as the White House urged FCC action to protect community broadband.