ISPs and FCC Republicans celebrate FCC’s court loss on muni broadband

From ArsTechnica:

A trade group representing ISPs rejoiced over a court decision that allows states to limit the growth of municipal broadband networks.

The “decision is a victory for the rule of law,” said Walter McCormick, president of the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom). “The FCC’s authority is not unbridled; it is limited to powers specifically delegated by the Congress, and it does not extend to preemption of state legislatures’ exercise of jurisdiction over their own political subdivisions.”

The best way for the FCC to accelerate broadband deployment is to “eliminat[e] federal regulatory impediments to innovation and investment—where there remains to be much that can and should be done,” he said.

USTelecom represents both large and small Internet providers, with AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier sitting on its board of directors. AT&T in particular has been active in supporting laws that restrict the spread of public broadband networks that could compete against incumbent ISPs.

About 20 states have municipal broadband restrictions. The FCC last year voted to preempt state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal providers from expanding outside their territories. But the states sued to preserve their laws, and yesterday they won their case at the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (full text).

FCC Republicans Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai also cheered the ruling that went against the commission’s Democratic majority.

“The FCC clearly tried to invoke imaginary authority and finally was called out by a court for doing so,” O’Rielly said. “Unless Congress specifically authorizes FCC intervention, States rightly can limit government-operated …

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