Obama opposes state limits on municipal broadband

The president's new broadband proposal will encourage the FCC to move against limits on city-financed projects

U.S. President Barack Obama opposes measures in 19 states that limit cities from rolling out their own broadband networks, and he will urge the Federal Communications Commission to take action to allow municipal broadband projects, the White House said Tuesday.

The announcement of Obama's formal opposition to state laws limiting or prohibiting municipal broadband projects is part of a proposal aimed at encouraging broadband competition and deployment across the U.S.

"Broadband matters, but a lot of us have a common, frustrating experience," Jeff Zients, director of the White House's National Economic Council, said during a press briefing. "Even when we're unhappy with the speed and performance of our Internet service, we don't have a choice. There are no alternative providers we can switch to."

Some allies of the U.S. broadband industry have questioned assertions by the FCC and other officials that the U.S. doesn't have enough broadband competition. On Tuesday, in anticipation of the Obama announcement, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, a trade group representing cable broadband providers, said its members have spent more than US $230 billion[b] over the past 20 years to extend and upgrade their broadband networks. Over the last decade, the average cable broadband speed has increased by more than 3,000 percent, the NCTA said.

Incumbent broadband providers and some Republicans in Congress are likely to fight Obama's proposal to allow more municipal broadband projects. Both groups have opposed municipal broadband, saying government-supported broadband shouldn't be allowed to compete with private companies.

Still, many U.S. residents want faster broadband and more competition than what's available, Zients said. Faster broadband speeds will help small businesses save time and money, encourage new startups across the U.S., and deliver personalized education to students, he said.

"When more companies compete for your broadband business, it means more reliable, faster and cheap broadband," he said.

More cities need the ability to deploy their own broadband networks or work with new providers to provide competition, added Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee. By working with its local electric utility, Chattanooga has 1 gigabit-per-second broadband service, the "fastest, cheapest, most pervasive network in the Western Hemisphere," Berke said.

Obama's broadband proposal also includes new grants and loans to rural broadband providers from the Department of Agriculture, as well as a new Department of Commerce program offering technical assistance to communities that need help with broadband financing and construction.

Obama will talk more about his broadband proposal during a rally in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Wednesday, and his broadband proposal will be highlighted in his State of the Union speech next Tuesday, the White House said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationNational Cable and Telecommunications AssociationU.S. White HouseAndy BerkeU.S. Federal Communications CommissionlegislationBarack ObamagovernmentJeff Zientsbroadband

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?