Reactions of the FCC Commissioners were mixed to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in favor of North Carolina and Tennessee, which had sued the FCC over its order that overturned state laws prohibiting municipal broadband networks.
Chairman Tom Wheeler lamented, “In the past 18 months, over 50 communities have taken steps to build their own bridges across the digital divide. The efforts of communities wanting better broadband should not be thwarted by the political power of those who, by protecting their monopoly, have failed to deliver acceptable service at an acceptable price.”
Comm. Michael O’Reilly, said he was “heartened by court’s decision. “The FCC clearly tried to invoke imaginary authority and finally was called out by a court for doing so.”
Comm. Mignon Clyburn was “extremely disappointed” by the court’s decision, saying “Local governments that want to bring connectivity to their communities, particularly when the private sector has failed to do so, should be able to ensure that their citizens have access to the enabling opportunities broadband brings.”
Comm. Jessica Rosenworcel called the decision a set-back. “It makes it harder for communities struggling when existing providers fail to meet their needs because it makes it more difficult for them to come together and build it themselves.”
Comm. Ajit Pai noted that in his dissent of the FCC Order, he noted it would “usurp fundamental aspects of state sovereignty” and he called on the Commission to instead take a deregulatory approach.
“Rather than wasting its time on illegal efforts to intrude on the prerogatives of state governments, the FCC should focus on implementing a broadband deployment agenda to eliminate regulatory barriers that discourage those in the private sector from deploying and upgrading next-generation networks,” he said.