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The Federal Communications Commission just started taking public comments on whether it should preempt state laws that limit the growth of municipal broadband in Tennessee and North Carolina.
Twenty states have passed such limits, which protect private Internet service providers from having to compete against cities and towns that seek to provide Internet, TV, and phone service to residents. After FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he intends to use the commission's authority to preempt the state laws, the commission received petitions from two public entities that want to expand broadband offerings.
"On July 24, 2014, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina filed separate petitions asking that the Commission act pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to preempt portions of Tennessee and North Carolina state statutes that restrict their ability to provide broadband services," the FCC said today. "The Electric Power Board is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga that provides electric and broadband service in the Chattanooga area. The City of Wilson provides electric service in six counties in eastern North Carolina and broadband service in Wilson County. Both Petitioners allege that state laws restrict their ability to expand their broadband service offerings to surrounding areas where customers have expressed interest in these services, and they request that the Commission preempt such laws."