In ‘huge blow’ for FCC, appeals court rules for states limiting municipal broadband

By: Debra Cassens Weiss

A federal appeals court has ruled against the Federal Communications Commission in its bid to stop states from limiting the expansion of internet service provided by cities.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals ruled (PDF) against the FCC on Wednesday, report Ars Techica, the Hill, the Memphis Business Journal and Techdirt.

The decision is “a huge blow” to the FCC, according to Techdirt, which says the laws limiting municipal broadband expansion protected companies like AT&T and Comcast. The states of Tennessee and North Carolina had challenged the FCC action.
The FCC had argued it had the authority to promote competition in the broadband market by pre-empting state laws, but the 6th Circuit found the agency had exceeded its authority.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler criticized the decision in a statement. “The FCC’s mandate is to make sure that Americans have access to the best possible broadband,” he said. “We will consider all our legal and policy options to remove barriers to broadband deployment wherever they exist so that all Americans can have access to 21st Century communications.”

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