STATE RESTRICTIONS ON COMMUNITY BROADBAND
INITIATIVES AND PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
(updated December 7, 2021)
This list is the successor to the list formerly maintained by Baller Stokes & Lide, PC. It summarizes the laws of the states that have substantial barriers to public communications initiatives and public-private broadband partnerships. These measures include explicit prohibitions on telecommunications, cable, broadband, or combinations of these services. They also include restrictions that may superficially appear to be benign—and were promoted by incumbent carriers as necessary to achieve “fair competition” and “a level playing field”—but are in practice discriminatory and prohibitory.
The list does not include state laws of general applicability that apply to all local government activities in the state, not just to communications matters. Nor does it include state laws that allow community broadband initiatives and public-private partnerships but bar or restrict their access to federal or state broadband subsidies. While we oppose such restrictions as shortsighted, unwise, and unfair—especially where they would prevent communities from obtaining access to substantially more robust communications capabilities than incumbent carriers would use the subsidies to provide—these restrictions raise different issues than those posed by the barriers discussed in this list. We will address such funding restrictions separately.
Please find the detailed state list here.
 Jim Baller, Sean Stokes, and Casey Lide are now partners at Keller and Heckman LLP.
 The Federal Communications Commission analyzed a representative example of these laws in extensive detail in In the Matter of City of Wilson, NC, Petition for Preemption of North Carolina General Statute 160A-340 et seq. …, FCC Rcd. 2408 (F.C.C.), 2015 WL 1120113. The Commission preempted the North Carolina law, finding that “[t]aken together, these purported “level playing field” provisions single out communications services for asymmetric regulatory burdens that function as barriers to and have the effect of increasing the expense of and causing delay in broadband deployment and infrastructure investment.” Id., at ¶ 30. In State of Tennessee v. Federal Communications Commission, 832 F.3d 597 (6th Cir. 2016), the Sixth Circuit did not question the merits of the Commission’s findings about the negative effects of the law, but the Court found that the Commission lacked authority to preempt the North Carolina law.Tweet