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FCC plans to fight state laws restricting city-run internet access


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Frustrated that your state won't let you get city-run broadband, even when it could be faster or cheaper than the privately-run alternatives? The FCC may soon act on its warnings and do something about it. The Washington Post understands that the Commission is exploring a draft proposal that would fight laws curbing municipal internet access in North Carolina and Tennessee. Reportedly, these measures prevent the FCC from using its authority to promote high-speed data deployments in the US -- Tennessee, for example, won't let cities offer broadband beyond specific regions. While the proposal would only target two states, the measure could well represent a launching pad for regulation affecting all 21 states that ban or restrict city-operated services.

The move is bound to face stiff opposition from Congressional Republicans, who both favor private solutions and worry that the FCC may misuse its authority to over-regulate American internet access. It's not clear that the FCC's mandate lets it get involved with intrastate politics on this level. However, there's no doubt that city governments feel they're getting a raw deal at the moment. They previously petitioned the FCC for help, complaining that the laws do too much to protect established cable and phone companies. It's certainly no secret that legislation limiting municipal broadband is often written by those companies in an attempt to protect a duopoly or monopoly. In that sense, the FCC might succeed by arguing that it's leveling the playing field and giving you more say over the kinds of services your city can provide.

[Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

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