FCC allows city-owned Internet providers to expand

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission says city-owned broadband companies can expand and compete with commercial Internet providers.

The cities of Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, asked the FCC for the ruling because state laws have prevented them from expanding.

The cities built networks offering super-fast speeds at low cost when telecommunications companies decided not to expand fast service in their area.

President Barack Obama has supported the expansion of city-owned broadband, saying the laws stifle competition and economic development.

The FCC voted 3-2 on Thursday in Washington to pre-empt state laws limiting the two cities, but the decision could set a precedent for other towns in 19 states that enforce limits. Guggenheim Securities telecom analyst Paul Gallant says cities and towns aren't big competitors for broadband companies.