Movement on Capitol Hill Could Preempt Municipal Telecom Networks
Otero, Juan, Nation's Cities Weekly
Although much of the recent focus on Capitol Hill has been on pending broadband legislation to reduce regulation on incumbent local exchange carriers' (ILECs') high-speed data services, the telecommunications industry is also pushing Congress on another priority item: halting the trend of municipalities building their own telecommunication networks.
Recently, the U.S. Telecom Association interim President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Lytle said he was hopeful that a bill would be introduced shortly to "deal with the unfairness of governments' competing with our members." According to Lytle, competition from municipality-owned networks is becoming a huge issue for smaller telecommunication providers. More than 200 municipalities are deploying networks to compete with those of the ILECs, Lytle said. "People we've talked to on [Capitol Hill] don't like it," he added. Lytle said it was a "little too early to say" which lawmakers might introduce legislation on the matter, but some "high-ranking members" of both parties are interested, he said.
Currently, federal law states, "No state or local statute or regulation, or other state or local legal requirement, may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service."
Despite the words "any entity," the Federal Communications Commission takes the position that the words "any entity" do not necessarily apply to municipally owned utilities. …