EPB reaction to Court Ruling against their broadband expansion

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The push to expand EPB’s broadband territory took a major hit on Wednesday in court.

The U.S. Appeals Court ruled that the FCC was going too far by supporting local broadband networks against state laws.

One of the two test markets for the decision is Chattanooga and the Electric Power Board.

Tennessee law has restricted where the utility can sell their service.

But the Federal Communications Commission tried to pre-empt state restrictions to allow broadband expansion into communities that don’t have high speed service.

The winners from the ruling are internet companies who won’t face the competition, and the Tennessee lawmakers who have protected their turf.

The losers are communities like Marion and Bradley County, which have lobbied EPB to bring their high speed network to their communities without such access.

Tom Wheeler

The FCC still has options to appeal, but their odds of prevailing took a major hit with the Wednesday ruling.

Chairman Tom Wheeler says “While we continue to review the decision, it appears to halt the promise of jobs, investment and opportunity that community broadband has provided in Tennessee and North Carolina.”

“Should states seek to repeal their anti-competitive broadband statutes, I will be happy to testify on behalf of better broadband and consumer choice. Should states seek to limit the right of people to act for better broadband, I will be happy to testify on behalf of consumer choice.”


David Wade

EPB President David Wade also released a statement on the ruling this afternoon.

“Ultimately, Tennessee’s broadband gap is a problem for Tennesseans, and we need a Tennessee solution,” said David Wade, president of EPB. “We will continue to work with the growing number of state legislators and grassroots citizens interested in removing the barriers that prevent EPB and other municipal providers from serving our neighbors in surrounding areas who have little or no access to broadband. We are further encouraged by Commissioner Randy Boyd’s interest in addressing the lack of broadband in rural areas. As the head of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, he is especially well positioned to join with state lawmakers in addressing this challenge on behalf of Tennesseans.”


Herbert SlateryTennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III applaudes the ruling

“We are pleased with the 6th Circuit decision reversing the FCC’s Order. As we have stated from the outset, this case was not about access to broadband. Instead, it was about preventing the federal government from exercising power over the state of Tennessee that it does not have. Current state law allows a municipal Power Board to provide internet service only within its electric service area. Today’s decision preserves Tennessee’s right to determine the authority and market area of a political subdivision organized under Tennessee law.”

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