Obama cites Chattanooga in urging end to state broadband restrictions

The Obama White House said Tuesday it wants the Federal Communications Commission to limit state restrictions on municipal broadband and other programs that could bring more speed and competition to Internet service, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

Obama administration officials touted the advantages offered by the city-owned EPB in Chattanooga, which helped bring the first citywide gigabit-per-second Internet service to any city in the Western Hemisphere two years ago.

EPB and other municipal broadband providers are restricted under Tennessee law where they can expand such service. But White House officials said Tuesday they want such limits dropped by the states.

“Broadband is not a luxury, it is a necessity … essential to keeping our innovative edge,” said Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers. “Some state laws tilt the playing field to restrict entrance into the market.”

In a speech planned today in Cedar Falls, Iowa, President Barack Obama will announce steps he will discuss in next week’s State of the Union address to help more Americans get access to fast and affordable broadband.

The White House released a report from his economic advisers showing how cities like Cedar Falls and Chattanooga are benefiting from high-speed Internet in competition with what the incumbent cable and telephone providers have provided.

“The goals are to increase competition, to make Internet more reliable, faster, and cheaper,” Zients said. “The president wants to offer mayors more tools to bring better Internet to their cities and towns.”