Exactly one year ago this morning, the Federal Communications Commission granted two petitions from Next Century Cities members Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC which sought relief from state laws restricting both communities’ ability to expand their successful gigabit Internet networks. The decision marked an important victory in support of oneof Next Century Cities’ core principles, that communities must enjoy self-determination. Supporting Wilson and Chattanooga in their fight were over 40 elected officials from Next Century Cities members who signed an open letter to the FCC. The letter urged the Commission to reconsider state-level barriers to broadband, observing, “Our communities – and all members of Next Century Cities – have taken divergent approaches to bringing broadband Internet to our residents, from municipal networks to partnerships with private providers, including major incumbents…. What has made possible this diversity of approaches and, in many cases, successes, has been the ability for our communities to make choices that suited our individual needs and circumstances.”
The decision is currently being appealed by Tennessee and North Carolina, and oral arguments are scheduled before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on March 17. Next Century Cities has filed an amicus brief that argued the state-level barriers were a barrier to broadband deployment. We will keep you updated as the case progresses.