Telecommunications Reports

Municipal Broadband

A Review of Rules, Requirements, and Options

November 2014
— Sherry Lichtenberg

The universal availability of high speed internet service (broadband) is a key goal for the country, the states, and the FCC. Today, 143 municipal networks throughout the country offer (primarily) fiber-based, high speed broadband service, with more in the planning stage. This paper explores the controversy surrounding municipal broadband through a factual lens. It reviews the statutes controlling municipal telecommunications and broadband projects across the nation, describes the conditions that some see as barriers to system deployment, reviews proposed state legislation limiting or expanding the reach of municipal systems. The paper also provides suggestions for understanding and addressing the competing points of view about the importance and value of municipally developed projects. The paper also provides an overview of the legal issues surrounding the municipal broadband debate, including two petitions currently pending at the FCC requesting that the agency use its authority under Section 706 of the federal Telecommunications Act to eliminate what the petitioners see as onerous conditions on the expansion of their existing municipal networks. Read More ›