Haymarket, VA, August 10, 2016 – Fred Campbell, director of Tech Knowledge, issued the following statement regarding the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision reversing the FCC’s rule preempting state-level restrictions on municipal broadband deployments:
“The court’s ruling makes doubly clear that the FCC does not have the power to pick the decision maker in non-federal government infrastructure projects. The FCC’s rule let local city officials make broadband deployment decisions throughout entire states, despite contrary decisions by state-level officials. This attempt by the FCC to ‘reorder the decision-making structure of a state and its municipalities trenches on the core sovereignty of that state.’
There are other good reasons why the FCC shouldn’t be interposing itself into relationships between state and local government officials. Geographic, economic, and other factors can vary widely across a single state, which puts state-level officials in a better position to serve state-wide interests than municipal officials. And one-size-fits-all policies designed by federal bureaucrats in Washington can be a particularly blunt instrument for dealing with the diverse needs of different states. Many municipal broadband deployments have ended in failures that ended up costing taxpayers.
The current FCC’s preference for ubiquitous fiber deployments despite their enormous costs — the FCC’s chief strategist declared, ‘I wouldn’t move to a place that just has fixed wireless’ — is likely unreasonable in most rural areas. The risks of pushing a fiber-only policy were highlighted just yesterday by Google’s surprise announcement that it’s putting plans on hold to provide fiber internet in Silicon Valley while it explores more cost-effective wireless alternatives. If the largest company in the world (Google) can’t justify the cost of fiber in the wealthy enclaves of Silicon Valley, it’s hard to see how the FCC can justify overriding the judgments of state officials in a starry-eyed push for nationwide fiber deployment.
This ruling means the FCC can’t gamble on its fiber internet agenda using the states’ money.”
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