Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit Municipal Broadband Services?

July 31, 2014 - Andrew Eisen

I use Time Warner Cable for my broadband internet service.  Why?  Because I have no choice.  TWC is the only provider available in my area.  It's either TWC or no wired internet.

You may have noticed that when it comes to broadband internet service in America, you almost certainly have only one option for a service provider - if you have an option at all, that is.  There are plenty of rural areas that have no service, period.

There have been stories of cities and towns wishing to build and operate their own broadband networks, which could bring service to otherwise ignored areas in addition to offering better speeds at competitive prices!

Or they would suck just as much as the other ISPs but hey, at least you'd have a choice!

At least, you might, if 20 states in this country didn't have laws on the books preventing or severely limiting municipal broadband services.

What do such laws hope to accomplish?  Well, some say to keep the gov't from spending tax payer dollars on things they shouldn't be spending tax payer dollars on.  The more cynical among us say it's because the telcoms don't want competition forcing them to be competitive (lower rates, better service, that kind of thing) and threw a lot of money at lawmakers to get these laws on the books.

Now, FCC Chairman (and former telcom lobbyist) Tom Wheeler says he wants to closely examine such laws and is currently taking public comments as to whether the FCC should overturn them.

Here's the question: will the FCC preempt state laws that limit municipal broadband services?  Simple 'yes' or 'no' question this week but you're more than welcome to expand on your answer in the comments below.  EZK and I will talk about this and reveal the poll results on this week's podcast.  We record Saturday nights at 6p PST right here on GamePolitics.

Join us, won't you?

"vote label" © Tribalium / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

I would vote "Yes, but with a watered down law with enough loopholes/wiggle room that it isn't useful."

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

The optimist in me said they will. The realist in me knows the cable companies are already ejaculating money down the throats of the politicians.

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

The whole point of these laws is to keep everything local. Just like when you call your local bus service you want someone in your area who knows what's down the hill next to the church.

A better example would be why these laws are like this most rural or country folks don't want stations with sex, drugs and stations that go against the local culture. It's like a company in Kansas controlling San Francisco's TV Service and adding only Country Music and Christian channels.

The problem is staying local means sometimes more money. I work a company in IL that deals with a town that is losing its local service to a more regional service provider to cut back on costs. The local guy knew his thousands of customers made sure to check on every single trip even though he could not use a computer.

At this point most of the cable service in the U.S has went from local, regional and national. Now it's to the point where there are a few providers and since there is no one else and they hold the local contracts they have not improved service much in years. I would argue these companies have created a monopoly on all cable service.

When another service like Google which wants to be National comes in it seems these Superpowers try to do everything possible to halt its advance. Comcast nor Time Warner is not stupid. Time Warner has lost in areas Google Fiber has become active. Let's face it Google is providing better service with current hardware not 14 year old hardware that your trying to charge an arm and leg for. Don't forget AOL died the moment something new came out. Just imagine working for a dial-up ISP around the advent of broadband

I know some towns and devout towns will try to prevent these laws from being changed because this will allow other services to come in there area and offer things they do not like but nationally what is happening with our cable service is a disgrace.

These local contracts are almost like a taxi medallion to me. They are expensive and completely unnecessary

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

Please explain to me how laws preventing the creation of local broadband ISPs and requiring residents to use not just a national ISP but one of the allowed national ISPs (remember at least one of these laws also prohibits Google Fiber except in government offices and non profit organizations) in any way "keeps things local."

I mean, when you talk about what's happened with cable companies you seem to understand this, all of that is exactly opposite of your original point.

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

Read further into my post. At one point in time in this country even in big cities like Chicago everything was local. Rather then a nationalized or regional provider there was a local provider. That's why in the 90s if you want to another town chances are the channel line up would be different. The way things are setup now is to operate in an area you must hold a local contract. Some companies like Comcast in the late 90s decided to absorb other companies which in turn netted them these companies with all the contracts included. So a power like Comcast went from being a local, regional and then national provider. ISPs can grow on there own but Cable companies have had laws in the past preventing them them into going into another territory without a local contract. http://gizmodo.com/5830956/why-the-government-wont-protect-you-from-gett...

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

I am not sure I understand your post. The point of the laws is NOT to keep things local, but to keep things in multi-national incumbents hands, AKA the opposite of local. The point of municipal broad band if to service areas that those multi-national incumbent corporations do not want to service.

 

In the case of Wilson NC the town went to said corporations and said they wanted the service and TWC said too bad, so wilson developed their own, profitable, service and TWC got mad and went to the GA to get this law in place, very screwed up.

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

The thing is the way the Cable network system is setup in this nation the foundation totally screws the customers. The whole local providers having exclusive contracts to certain areas in the 90s pretty much led the foundations to the problems we have today. It's almost like the horrible Western Nation-Buildings in the Middle East and Africa completely screwed up the areas for those living now. To where it might worked back then now it just allowed a superpower to grab up smaller entities and becoming to big. http://gizmodo.com/5830956/why-the-government-wont-protect-you-from-gett...

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

"Don't forget AOL died the moment something new came out."

Well, to be truthful, it's not really dead... AOL is still very much alive with a disturbing number of customers still paying them.

It's more or less just thrashing around in its grave, desperately yelling that they're not dead yet.

Re: Poll: Will the FCC Preempt State Laws That Limit ...

they will not but they should. if anything can be defined as interstate commerce it is the internet. I do not like government intervention as a rule, but those state laws are stupid and should not exist.  

 
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