Cable lobbyist turned FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has tried to "balance" his attempt to nuke Net Neutrality by promising to override state laws that prohibit cities from setting up their own broadband networks. But it's a largely meaningless gesture: practically every big city in America is locked into a decade-long contractual "franchise" arrangement with a big cable company.
Those agreements are entered into bilaterally—local politicians know what they're getting into when they sign one. But often, these franchise agreements can last for more than a decade, so politicians are locked in for several election cycles. Even if a new city administration has a change of heart—or simply wants to offer its residents another, better option—they're locked down for years at a time.
The ones getting screwed are the consumers, who are contractually faced with few, limited options.
The agreements aren't uncommon—if you have access to cable, your city has a franchise agreement. Beyond that, sometimes the telecom companies own or lease the actual pipes that the fiber would be laid in—and they aren't likely to let a community ISP use them.
The FCC Can't Help Cities Trapped By Predatory Internet Deals With Big Telecom [Jason Koebler/Motherboard]