Last February, advocates of local choice won an important victory when the Federal Communications Commission granted two petitions from Next Century Cities members Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, TN. The two communities sought relief from state laws that severely inhibited the ability of municipal networks to partner with neighboring communities in order to expand access to their highly successful gigabit Internet networks. In support of the effort last year, 38 NCC members signed an open letter to the FCC urging the Commissioners to protect one of our organization’s core principles – local Internet choice. The importance of the decision was underscored recently when the Tennessee state legislature blocked passage of a bill that would have made it easier for municipally-owned gigabit networks to partner with neighboring communities.
The FCC’s decision was appealed by the attorneys general of North Carolina and Tennessee, and today, oral arguments were heard before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Next Century Cities has filed an amicus brief that argued the state-level barriers were a barrier to next generation Internet network deployment. We hope the principle of local choice will be respected, and we will keep you updated as the case progresses.