Court rules that FCC can't force states to repeal laws banning municipal ISPs

Tea Party-dominated states across America passed laws banning cities from providing high-speed internet access to their residents, even in places where the cable/telco duopoly had decided not to sell broadband; last year, the FCC issued an order stating that these laws were null and void.

Now, the states involved have won a court challenge on the FCC's order, with all three judges in a Sixth Circuit Appeals Court ruling that it did not have jurisdiction to strike down the laws.

"The FCC order essentially serves to re-allocate decision-making power between the states and their municipalities," judges wrote. "This is shown by the fact that no federal statute or FCC regulation requires the municipalities to expand or otherwise to act in contravention of the preempted state statutory provisions. This preemption by the FCC of the allocation of power between a state and its subdivisions requires at least a clear statement in the authorizing federal legislation. The FCC relies upon Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 for the authority to preempt in this case, but that statute falls far short of such a clear statement. The preemption order must accordingly be reversed."

In blow to muni broadband, FCC loses bid to overturn state laws
[Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica]

(Image: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler at WRC-15 Media Briefing, United States Mission Geneva, CC-BY-ND)