“This is crazy”: FCC kills part of San Francisco’s broadband-competition law

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The Federal Communications Commission voted to preempt part of a San Francisco ordinance that promotes broadband competition in apartment buildings and other multi-tenant structures. The FCC's decision "stop[s] efforts in California designed to encourage competition in multi-tenant environments," said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "Specifically, we say to the city of San Francisco—where more than half of the population rents their housing, often in multi-tenant units—that they cannot encourage broadband competition. This is crazy." Commissioner Rosenworcel pointed out that the FCC gave up its own Title II regulatory authority over broadband when it repealed net neutrality rules yet is now claiming the authority to stop local broadband regulation. "We somehow claim we have unfettered authority when it comes to broadband in buildings but disown our general authority over the same in our net neutrality proceeding, where we pronounced broadband beyond the reach of this agency," Commissioner Rosenworcel said.

But it's not clear exactly what effect the preemption will have, because San Francisco says the FCC's Republican majority has misinterpreted what the law does.  The FCC has "contorted" the San Francisco law into a "non-existent bogeyman, suggesting that the ordinance compels sharing of wiring that is already in use," Commissioner Rosenworcel said. "This is simply not true. In fact, San Francisco has told us on the record that this is not what the law does. But even if it were true, the agency fails to determine here if such sharing would even be technically possible. All of which begs the question, why is the FCC doing this? Why are we preempting an imaginary possibility in a city ordinance in San Francisco?" Chairman Pai accused San Francisco of playing word games, saying in the meeting that "it is difficult to understand how anyone can be harmed by a decision to preempt a city mandate that the city itself claims doesn't exist." Chairman Pai said that if the city is correct that its law doesn't apply to in-use wiring, there's no reason for it be concerned about the preemption. "All of this suggests that the opposition here is driven not by the facts, not by the law, but instead by that crass impulse in politics, 'if he's for it, I'm against it,'" Chairman Pai said. Chairman Pai's proposal said the FCC doesn't need to fully understand San Francisco's law in order to preempt it.

“This is crazy”: FCC kills part of San Francisco’s broadband-competition law The FCC’s Confusing Attempt to Change a San Francisco Law (CityLab)