Statement: MMP Strongly Supports Chairman Wheeler’s Move to Expand Broadband Competition

The Media Mobilizing Project strongly supports Chairman Wheeler of the Federal Communications Commission‘s plan to turn the attention of the FCC to local broadband competition and the needs of our communities to have reliable, affordable, high speed, competitive internet choices in homes and businesses.
The media is reporting that the FCC will consider a draft decision to intervene in two state laws – passed in North Carolina and Tennessee — that curtail cities and communities’ choices to build their own competitive broadband networks for communities that want and need them.  A majority vote in favor of this proposal could undo over 20 state laws —  including one in Pennsylvania — that prevent municipally built networks.
Hannah Sassaman, Policy Director at Media Mobilizing Project, noted:
“As we told Chairman Wheeler when he visited us in Pennsylvania in September of last year, communities like Philadelphia very much need the right to build our own broadband networks.  Philly tried to build one in the mid-2000s with many poor and working people offline.  State legislators, pushed by big telecom companies like Verizon and Comcast, moved to ban municipal broadband across the state.
With a positive ruling on the Tennessee and North Carolina petitions, we have a chance of bringing much needed competitive broadband to cities across the state.  In Philadelphia, at least a quarter of low income Philadelphians are offline.  And Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, aimed at serving poor and working school-age children and their caregivers, only reaches 9% of eligible families — with speeds that don’t even qualify as broadband.
Philly, every city in PA, and every community nationwide deserves the right to explore high quality competition to our communications monopolies – to drive prices down, quality up, and access to everyone, poor and working people and beyond.  We look forward to Chairman Wheeler’s continued leadership on this issue, and expanding options for our communities – who strongly believe that access to high quality communications is a human right.”
Media Mobilizing Project is working with over 5000 people and a growing coalition as a part of our CAP Comcast campaign, which aims to secure fair rates, the resources Philadelphia deserves, and the right to move communications competition in Philly as parts of the city’s upcoming cable franchise negotiation with Comcast.
The following quote can be attributed to Barry Kauffman, Executive Director of Common Cause Pennsylvania:
“I have been an advocate for a fair government in Harrisburg for nearly 3 decades – and was walking the halls of our state Capitol when big telecom companies pushed through legislation barring our towns and cities from building their own broadband networks.  I live just 25 miles from the Capitol, and because of this ban and the influence of big telecom companies in our politics, I didn’t have access to high speed internet until just last year.
Giving the unique local communities in PA and other states the right to build their own networks will increase public participation in our governmental processes, and increase the ability of local businesses, students, and communities to thrive. When the private sector will not provide such essential services to our citizens because they don’t find it sufficiently profitable, then government must have the authority to step in and get the job done – just like they did so successfully with rural electrification during the Great Depression.
Common Cause/PA strongly supports Chairman Wheeler’s move to expand broadband choices to our communities with this petition, and we hope that it can bring much needed change to Pennsylvania’s cities, towns, and communities.”