FCC Acting Chair Urges States to Nix Local Broadband Restrictions

Jessica Rosenworcel answers a question during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee hearing to examine the Federal Communications Commission on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

Jessica Rosenworcel answers a question during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee hearing to examine the Federal Communications Commission on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

More than 20 states make it difficult, if not impossible, for municipalities to establish broadband service. “We have to embrace all kinds of solutions,” said Jessica Rosenworcel during a Route Fifty panel.

The acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission urged state legislatures to revise laws that prohibit municipalities from operating broadband networks, calling the restrictions “unfair” to local governments. 

“I hope this is an issue some of the state legislatures can revisit,” said Jessica Rosenworcel as she spoke Tuesday at a Route Fifty panel discussion about efforts to expand broadband access.

Twenty-two states have restrictions in place that either ban or make it extremely difficult for municipalities to establish broadband networks, according to a recent report from Broadband Now.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to high-speed internet and spurred investment at the state, local and federal level to improve broadband infrastructure. Lawmakers and government officials will have to think creatively to ensure that all households in the United States have access to high-speed internet, and municipal-operated broadband is just one way legislators can try to help meet that goal, Rosenworcel said.

“We recognize if we want to reach 100%, we have to embrace all kinds of solutions,” she said.

The Biden administration is looking to incentivize reliance on municipal-owned broadband as part of its infrastructure package, meanwhile some states have taken action to allow local governments to enter the market.

Five states considered proposals this year to remove barriers to establishing local broadband networks, but only two are expected to pass legislation.

The Arkansas legislature approved, and the governor signed, a bill, that allows cities or counties to issue bonds to pay for the construction of telecommunication infrastructure, including broadband networks. The local governments would then pay off the bonds by partnering with an internet service provider and leasing the infrastructure to that provider.

In Washington, the governor is expected to sign legislation that would allow municipalities to offer retail broadband service.

While the Biden administration’s coronavirus stimulus plan targets billions of dollars toward broadband expansion, the president’s infrastructure plan encourages municipal broadband development by specifically prioritizing funding toward broadband networks owned or operated by local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives. Those providers face “less pressure to turn profits” and have a “commitment to serving entire communities,” the White House said.

But the Biden plan could face pushback from Republicans in Congress, who introduced a bill that would prohibit states and cities from building networks unless there is no more than one commercial provider offering broadband service in an area. The bill, dubbed the CONNECT Act, would “promote competition by limiting government-run broadband networks throughout the country and encouraging private investment," Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said in an announcement about the bill.

State and local governments can also play a role in reducing broadband service gaps by engaging with their communities to find out where service is lacking, Rosenworcel said. The FCC has sought to improve the accuracy of its broadband maps, but Rosenworcel said local governments will be better positioned for grant funding if they collect more nuanced data about their communities.

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: Centralizing State IT Functions Gains Momentum

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.