Sending Office: Honorable Anna G. Eshoo
Cosponsor the Community Broadband Act of 2018
Broadband internet is the most vital tool of the 21st Century economy, but unfortunately, far too many communities in our country lack access to this critical service. I invite you to join me as a cosponsor of the
Community Broadband Act of 2018, H.R. 4814, which will empower local communities to ensure that their residents have broadband access.
According to the Congressional Research Service, twenty states have passed laws that either restrict or outright prohibit local communities from investing local dollars into building their own broadband networks. These laws shield incumbent internet service
providers from competition and tie the hands of communities that want to improve broadband options or build-out to unserved areas on the wrong side of the digital divide, which private providers refuse to connect.
In 2014, two successful local broadband services from Tennessee and North Carolina petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for relief from laws in their states which restricted their ability to expand service and meet the needs of their communities.
In 2015, the FCC granted these requests over the strong objections of incumbent service providers, finding that the state laws violated federal law by inhibiting the deployment of broadband to all Americans. Unfortunately, in 2016, the 6th Circuit
Court of Appeals reversed these decisions, leaving communities nationwide in need of relief
The Court’s ruling in this case had serious consequences for the citizens of these states. For example, a North Carolina municipal broadband provider was able to extend its service beyond what state law would otherwise have allowed thanks to the FCC’s intervention.
Extending quality broadband service to neighboring communities allowed small businesses to grow and brought job opportunities that were previously unavailable. Due to the Court’s ruling and the restoration of the restrictive state law, however, those small
North Carolina cities were actively stripped of their own network that they’d already put in place. This problem has not been fixed in the intervening years, as cities from the twenty-one states remain unable to provide broadband to their communities.
This is in contrast to the success stories we hear from cities whose state legislatures have not caved to special interest. Most recently, Fort Collins, Colorado, succeeded in moving ahead with its plans for community broadband after waging a long uphill
fight against the cable lobby right in their hometown.
By reintroducing this legislation, we can help local governments enable connectivity, economic growth and local job creation. This legislation will protect the expansions that were permitted by the FCC’s original 2015 action, and provide certainty for other
communities who may wish to follow suit, by clearing the way for them to make their own decisions about the needs of their communities and how best to solve local problems.
To cosponsor this legislation, you can contact Kate Forscey of my staff at 6-4581.
Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress
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