Once again, CLIC thanks FCC Chairman Wheeler for his recognition of the importance of local Internet choice embedded in two separate letters responding to Congressmen who wrote him on the issue of FCC preemption of state anti-competitive broadband laws.
On July 22, 2014, Chairman Wheeler responded to various questions posed in a letter dated June 12, 2014, from Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) and other House Republicans asking why he would preempt anticompetitive state broadband laws. He began by recognizing the critical importance of local Internet choice and FCC’s obligations under the Communications Act:
“…Around the country, communities have focused on the importance of ensuring that their citizens receive the benefits of broadband, and some have concluded that investing in their own broadband efforts — or authorizing others to invest in their behalf — will provide more competition and the economic and social benefits that accompany competition for their residents and businesses. Section 706 of the Communications Act charges the Federal Communications Commission with ensuring that broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. I believe that competition is a strong means to that critical goal.”
Again on August 11, the Chairman responded to a bi-cameral letter of June 27, 2014, from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, and other House and Senate Democrats. Chairman Wheeler emphasized that he was “heartened” by their “support for community broadband” and their “recognition of the vital importance of robust broadband to our country as a whole, and to smaller communities in particular.” He noted how “some [communities] have concluded that investing in their own broadband effort will provide more competition,” “economic” and “social benefits,” and yet “many states have enacted laws that place a range of restrictions on communities’ ability to invest in their own future.” While recognizing “the important role of state governments in our federal system,” he noted that “state laws that directly conflict with critical federal laws and policy may be subject to preemption in appropriate circumstances.”
Throughout both letters, Chairman Wheeler made it clear that such issues are not to be “taken lightly” but warrant “careful consideration of all relevant and policy issues.” He pledged that there would be an “open proceeding” to ensure “the fullest opportunity for comment” and evaluation of “all relevant factual, policy and legal issues.”
CLIC encourages the public to file such comments in this critical proceeding, and provided sample comments and instructions on how to file at the FCC HERE. Comments are due August 29, Reply Comments on September 29.