Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Use ‘Full Arsenal’ in Pushing Municipal Broadband, Lawmakers Tell Wheeler

Several Democrats on the Hill, including some members of the the House and Senate panels with jurisdiction over telecommunications policy, are liking what they’re hearing from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on municipal broadband. On Friday, the eight lawmakers wrote to Wheeler, urging him to follow his words with decisive action.

Wheeler has contended that municipal broadband networks shouldn’t be blocked by state laws and that the FCC has the authority to pre-empt those laws. And he says he intends to use that authority.

The lawmakers want him to do it sooner rather than later:

We are pleased by your recent comments about community broadband, particularly your assertion that municipal governments should not be inhibited if they wish to pursue the creation of their own networks. Communities are often best suited to decide for themselves if they want to invest in their own infrastructure and to choose the approach that will work best for them…. We urge you and your colleagues to utilize the full arsenal of tools Congress has enacted to promote competitive broadband service to ensure America’s communities obtain a 21st century infrastructure to succeed in today’s fiercely competitive global economy.

“We ask that you respond to our inquiry within 30 days about what plans the Commission intends to pursue to make progress on community broadband,” the letter states.

The lawmakers who signed the letter: Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Mike Doyle, D-Pa., Al Franken, D-Minn., Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

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