Apparently the state of Tennessee really doesn’t want its citizens to have good, competitive broadband. While the FCC’s net neutrality rules keep getting all the attention, as we’ve discussed, in the long run it may be a bigger deal that the FCC (the same day it released the net neutrality rules) also started dismantling protectionist state laws that block municipal broadband. Those laws — almost all of which were written directly by big broadband players afraid of competition — make it close to impossible for local municipalities to decide that they’re going to set up true competitors. The FCC pre-empted two such state laws, including in Tennessee, where one super successful municipal broadband project, in Chattanooga, wanted to expand to other nearby places. However, Tennessee’s law blocked this.
We already noted that Rep. Marsha Blackburn was trying to pass legislation that would block the FCC’s efforts here, but the state of Tennessee has taken it up a notch and sued the FCC over the rules. You will notice that the arguments used by the state of Tennessee are almost verbatim identical to the lawsuits we wrote about yesterday challenging the FCC’s net neutrality rules:
The State of Tennessee, as a sovereign and a party to the proceeding below, is aggrieved and seeks relief on the grounds that the Order: (1) is contrary to the United States Constitution; (2) is in excess of the Commission’s authority; (3) is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act; and (4) is otherwise contrary to law.
Yes, this is almost word-for-word identical to the claims made about the net neutrality rules and is basically the standard language to challenge any FCC ruling.
But here’s the larger question: if you’re a resident of Tennessee who likes having fast, affordable, competitive broadband, are you happy about your tax dollars being used to sue the FCC in an effort to uphold a law written by the big broadband players, focused on blocking such competition? It seems like the current Tennessee Attorney General, Herbert Slatery, has painted a giant target on his back for a challenger who actually wants to support the public in Tennessee.