Washington (August 19, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14)  announced that they have received a response from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler to a letter they sent in June urging the FCC to allow communities to build out their own broadband infrastructure.

 “I appreciate Chairman Wheeler’s continued commitment to ensuring that local communities have the opportunity to decide for themselves how best to promote competitive broadband service.  What the broadband market needs today are more options and greater local choice, not barriers that prevent cities and towns from participating fully in the global economy. I encourage the Commission to use its authority to ensure municipalities have the power to make decisions about their broadband infrastructure,” said Senator Markey.

?"I welcome Chairman Wheeler's response and his continuing interest in municipal broadband, and I strongly encourage him and the FCC to take quick and decisive action to lift restrictions that limit or prevent communities from addressing their own broadband needs,” Congressman Doyle said after reviewing the letter from Chairman Wheeler.

 The June 27 Doyle-Markey letter – which was also signed by Senators Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Richard Blumenthal, and Corey A. Booker, along with Representatives Henry A. Waxman and Anna G. Eshoo – urged the FCC to use all of its authority to promote affordable, high quality broadband service in communities across the country:
“We are pleased by your recent comments about community broadband, particularly your assertion that municipal governments should not be inhibited if they wish to pursue the creation of their own networks…. We urge you and your colleagues to utilize the full arsenal of tools Congress has enacted to promote competitive broadband service to ensure America’s communities obtain a 21st century infrastructure to succeed in today’s fiercely competitive global economy.”

 A number of municipalities across the country have undertaken efforts to address their residents’ unmet broadband needs through a number of means, including creation of their own broadband networks. In recent years, however, a number of state governments have enacted laws prohibiting municipalities from creating their own broadband infrastructure. As a result, many communities across the country still don’t have adequate access to fast, reliable, and affordable broadband networks.

 "High-speed, affordable broadband access is essential for economic growth today,” Congressman Doyle observed. “I am concerned that communities that don't have access to affordable high-speed broadband will be left behind. Their options to address such a fundamental challenge shouldn’t be restricted by technologically unsophisticated state governments."??This issue is now on the Federal Communications Commission’s agenda. On July 24, 2014, EPB of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina, petitioned the FCC to preempt state laws limiting the expansion of their current broadband deployments. The Commission will be considering this request in the coming weeks and months. Commissioner Wheeler closed his letter with the assurance that the views expressed by Senator Markey, Representative Doyle, and their colleagues in the June 27 letter would be considered as part of the Commission’s petition review.

 Click here for a copy of the June 27, 2014, Markey-Doyle letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler.

 Click here for a copy of FCC Chairman Wheeler’s response to the June 27, 2014, Markey-Doyle letter.