This morning, the Federal Communications Commission announced its decision to accept the petitions from two Next Century Cities members, Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC, confirming earlier reports suggesting that the agency was considering upholding the principle of local choice for the petitioners. The two communities had filed petitions with the FCC seeking federal relief from state laws inhibiting the expansion of successful gigabit Internet networks. Chattanooga and Wilson found support for their efforts from over 40 elected officials representing 38 Next Century Cities members, who signed an open letter in January, urging the FCC to preserve local choice for broadband Internet. In passing the motion, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated, “This decision is pro-broadband. This decision is pro-competition. And this decision is for the rights of Americans, through their elected local officials, to make their own decision about their broadband future.”

Responding to the good news, Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia said, ““Today the FCC stood behind local leaders in Wilson and Chattanooga and their call for local choice. But this decision is about more than these two communities—it is a major step forward for all communities seeking next-generation Internet to transform the way we learn, work, and live. Choice and competition are key ingredients to broadening the reach and opportunities afforded by this vital infrastructure. This decision is a win for local choice and a win for competition. It sets a powerful precedent nationwide that cities should be free to choose when it comes to high-quality Internet.”

Next Century Cities will continue to follow this story and keep members updated about its ramifications for the future of fast, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet.