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03 March, 2018

Next stage of Net Neutrality conflict begins

by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

Part 4 - Net Neutrality in States and Local Communities

The campaign for net neutrality is also working at the state and local level. In more than half of the states, net neutrality protections are moving forward.

In California, Hawaii, New York, Montana and Vermont legislation is in the works that would preserve internet neutrality. The FCC’s new rule says states are not allowed to pass their own net neutrality laws, but many are trying to do so with various legal workarounds. It is likely these state and local actions will require litigation to be put into place.

Governors are also working to protect net neutrality. The first governor to act was Montana’s Steve Bullock. Now governors in Vermont, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York have signed executive orders requiring their states to only do business with internet providers that abide by net neutrality rules.

And there is activity at the community level. A new map from Community Networks shows that more communities than ever are building their own broadband networks to end big telecom’s monopoly. They range from large networks in Chattanooga, Tennessee to small town networks connecting a few local businesses. The map includes more than 750 communities as of January 2018, including 55 publicly-owned municipal networks serving 108 communities, 76 communities with publicly-owned cable networks reaching most or all of the community, and 258 communities served by rural electric cooperatives, among others. Nineteen states have barriers in place that discourage or prevent local communities from creating publicly-owned local networks.

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