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State AGs Work To Keep Cities And Towns From Forming Municipal Broadband Networks

Readers of this blog are familiar with the fact that 20 states have laws preventing cities and towns from forming high-speed Internet services. That means, the residents in these locations have fewer rights and freedoms. ProPublica reported how some states are fighting to keep these restrictions in place:

"... the attorneys general in North Carolina and Tennessee have recently filed lawsuits in an attempt to overrule the FCC and block towns in these states from expanding publicly funded Internet service. North Carolina’s attorney general argued in a suit filed last month that the “FCC unlawfully inserted itself between the State and the State’s political subdivisions.” Tennessee’s attorney general filed a similar suit in March. Tennessee has hired one of the country’s largest telecom lobbying and law firms, Wiley Rein, to represent the state in its suit. The firm, founded by a former FCC chairman, has represented AT&T, Verizon and Qwest, among others."

Why some states' attorney generals are doing this:

"... the Tennessee attorney general’s office told ProPublica, “This is a question of the state’s sovereign ability to define the role of its local governmental units.” North Carolina Attorney General’s office said in a statement that the “legal defense of state laws by the Attorney General’s office is a statutory requirement.” As the New York Times detailed last year, state attorneys general have become a major target of corporate lobbyists and contributors including AT&T, Comcast and T-Mobile."

And, money appears to be corrupting the decision process. The North Carolina:

"... Attorney General Roy Cooper received roughly $35,000 from the telecommunications industry in his 2012 run for office. Only the state’s retail industry gave more. The donations are just a small part of contributions the industry has made in the states. In North Carolina’s 2014 elections, the telecommunications industry gave a combined $870,000 to candidates in both parties, which made it one of the top industries to contribute that year. Candidates in Tennessee received nearly $921,000 from AT&T and other industry players in 2014."

Studies have documented that consumers in the USA pay more and get slower speeds than consumers in other countries. Several U.S. Senators introduced the Community Broadband Act to encourage more competition, faster speeds, and lower Internet prices.

If you live in one of these states, tell your elected officials you want more freedoms, not fewer, and better Internet services: faster speeds and lower prices. Tell them you want more competition to make sure you get better services. Tell them you will remember what they do, or fail to do, at the next election.


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