FCC Won’t Appeal Municipal Broadband Defeat to Supreme Court
Big Telecomm wins because state legislatures will, in general, do whatever a big corporation demands, including passing laws that penalizes the people the legislators are supposed to represent. Sam Gustin reports in Motherboard:
The Federal Communications Commission will not appeal a recent court decision that kneecapped the agency’s power to promote municipal broadband development nationwide, a FCC spokesperson told Motherboard on Monday.
In 2014, the FCC asserted the power to preempt state laws that pose barriers to municipal broadband, but earlier this month, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down the agency’s authority to do so, in a stinging defeat for community broadband advocates.
“The FCC will not seek further review of the Sixth Circuit’s decision on municipal broadband after determining that doing so would not be the best use of Commission resources,” agency spokesperson Mark Wigfield said.
That means that the FCC will neither seek a full Sixth Circuit “en banc” hearing, nor appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
The FCC’s decision not to pursue further legal review in the case represents a significant victory for cable and phone giants like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, which for years have been battling local community broadband efforts.
“Sometimes you’ve got to know when to fold ‘em,” Harold Feld, senior vice president of DC-based consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, told Motherboard. “This case was always something of a long-shot, but now it’s too much of a long-shot to put money on.”
The broadband industry has for years backed efforts in states across the country to push laws that pose barriers to municipal broadband development. The industry often argues that publicly-owned networks would create “non-level playing field,” but community broadband advocates say these corporate giants are just trying to protect their monopoly power in many markets.
Now that the FCC has chosen not to appeal its defeat, municipal broadband advocates will focus in repealing restrictive state laws, Feld said. “At the end of the day, this is going to be a state-by-state fight,” he said.
Democrats in Congress have also introduced legislation called the “Community Broadband Act” that would preempt anti-municipal broadband state laws, but there’s virtually no chance such a bill would pass while Republicans control both the House and Senate. . .