Municipal broadband is now available. The FCC today ruled — via a 3-2 vote — that municipalities across the country can build their own broadband Internet service. Keep in mind, broadband was recently reclassified to reflect a 25Mbps download and 10Mbps upload speed. The decision was prompted by the petition of two communities with gigabit Internet service who were prevented from expanding into neighboring areas due to state laws. This is a big step toward better Internet service, but it’s not the grand prize.
We likely won’t be seeing a ruling on Net Neutrality today. Two FCC commissioners have refused to submit their edits on the order before them. Ajit Pai and Mike O’Reilly, the two commissioners who failed to do their diligence, are staunchly opposed to Net Neutrality in any form. We may still get a ruling on reclassification, though.
As for municipal broadband, that’s still full steam ahead. Though some oppose the FCC’s authority to establish rules for municipalities and states, the commission is empowered by section 706 of the Telecommunications Act. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said “We don’t take lightly the matter of preempting state laws.”
He went on to say “The human faces of those who are condemned to second-rate broadband are a message to all of us.” and noted “There are a few irrefutable truths about broadband. One is you can’t say you’re for broadband, and then turn around and endorse limits.”
This is a work in progress, but at least for today, your city — or the city next to you — can provide Internet service anywhere it’s needed. That’s pretty huge for rural areas who are condemned to suffer terrible Internet based on stodgy state laws.