Tennessee Sues FCC Over City-Run Internet


The state of Tennessee is suing the FCC to overturn its recent city-friendly decision to dismantle laws that restrict municipalities from supplying broadband and competing with private companies such as AT&T and Comcast. The FCC recently re-classified broadband Internet as a utility, effectively declaring it as a right for every American and, at the same time, dismantled laws restricting competition.

Now, while the broadband industry is suing the FCC to stop net neutrality rules, the state of Tennessee is also claiming the FCC “has unlawfully inserted itself between the State of Tennessee and the State’s own political subdivisions,” calling it “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

Legislators in Tennessee, North Carolina and approximately 30 other states have attempted to limit municipal Internet expansion even if it might mean poorer or non-existent service in rural areas. Private Internet providers have encouraged these actions, oftentimes drafting a majority of the state legislation used to restrict city Internet services.

The FCC is convinced that any challenges of its municipality ruling will fail, saying “we are confident that our decision to pre-empt laws in two states that prevented community broadband providers from meeting the needs and demands of local consumers will withstand judicial scrutiny.”

If the FCC prevails, other municipalities facing similar bans could begin to proceed with broadband expansion.