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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

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

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

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?