Amidst enormous applause and a final standing ovation, FCC Chairman Wheeler spoke to NATOA two weeks ago about the critical federal-local partnership that is essential for “all citizens” “to have access to robust broadband networks.” CLIC revisits this important speech and Chairman Wheeler’s focus on Lafayette’s local broadband victory to demonstrate the inherent value in local communities being able to determine their own broadband futures. Wheeler stated:
“The advantages of competition are so obvious and ingrained in the American psyche that many local communities have stepped up to facilitate it where the private sector has not. Communities are listening to the needs of their citizens and enterprises, engaging community stakeholders, and focusing on delivering competitive broadband services to respond to those needs. As you know, two communities – Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, TN – have petitioned the FCC to preempt the laws enacted by state legislatures that prohibit them from expanding their community-owned broadband networks…. We will make our decision on those petitions on the record and on the merits. I am not going to comment on them any further.
However, I do encourage you to consider how local choice and competition can increase the broadband opportunities for your citizens. I love the story of Lafayette, Louisiana where the local incumbent fought the city’s fiber network tooth and nail, bringing multiple court challenges and triggering a local referendum on the project. Thankfully, none of the challenges managed to prevent deployment – sixty-two percent of voters approved of the network in the referendum, and the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously sided with the city – but they did delay deployment almost three years. When the network was finally built, the community experienced the benefits of competition, as the local cable operator decided to upgrade its network..
…. Local choice and competition are about as American as you can get.”
CLIC encourages you to get involved and let the Commission know why communities should have the right to decide their own economic and broadband futures. Take five minutes and file ex-parte comments, as we mention here.