The State of Tennessee is fighting for its right to enforce a law that prevents municipal broadband networks from providing Internet service to other cities and towns.
Tennessee filed a lawsuit Friday against the Federal Communications Commission, which last month voted to preempt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. The FCC cited its authority granted in 1996 by Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of broadband to all Americans by using “measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market, or other regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment.” (Emphasis ours.)
In Tennessee, the Electric Power Board (EPB) of Chattanooga offers Internet and video service to residents, but state law prevented it from expanding outside its electric service area to adjacent towns that have poor Internet service. Tennessee is one of about 20 states that impose some type of restriction on municipal broadband networks, helping protect private Internet service providers from competition.
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