In the flurry of activity yesterday surrounding the FCC’s comment deadline on the net neutrality debate, members of Congress are quietly trying to slip through a bill that will block the development of real alternatives for high-speed Internet.
Representative Marsha Blackburn introduced an amendment late last night that aims to limit FCC authority to preempt state laws that restrict or prohibit municipal and community high-speed Internet projects or investment.
Blackburn’s amendment will go up for a vote today, so we must act now to tell our representatives how important it is that cities and communities maintain their right to build their own communications infrastructure.
Visit DearFCC.org/call to take action right now! A quick phone call can go a long way, and we’ve made it simple with our call tool.
Projects like community mesh networks and mayors’ attempts to bring fiber to their cities should never be illegal or stifled by misguided state laws. On the contrary, they should be encouraged. That’s because community and municipal high-speed Internet projects provide users more options.
Across the country, the majority of Internet users are stuck with one or two choices at most for high-speed, reliable access. These companies charge exorbitant fees and are currently in midst of urging the FCC to allow them (ISPs) to speed up connections to websites that pay for premium access for users.
Municipal and community broadband projects offer alternatives, so when companies like Comcast and Verizon are behaving badly, users have somewhere else to go. But right now there are 20 states that have laws that make it make it hard or impossible for communities to take their Internet into their own hands.
Consider Chattanooga, Tennessee, a city that has better broadband than San Francisco. Chattanooga is home to one of the nation’s least expensive, most robust municipally owned broadband networks. There, users have access to a gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second Internet connection. That’s far ahead of the average US connection speed, which typically clocks in at 9.8 megabits per second. And in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC, residents have built their own community-controlled alternative to expensive Internet companies, and it’s free.
We were happy to hear about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to challenge these restrictive state laws, but now it looks like those good intentions are under attack.
Act now. Tell your friends. We can’t let Congress undermine community efforts to create real alternatives for high-speed Internet. Visit DearFCC.org/call to contact your representative immediately.