In the immortal words of former Republican senator Ted Stevens, "The internet is not a big truck." But the internet is a public utility! WOOT! That's because the Federal Communications Commission voted to classify it as such this morning, enshrining net neutrality as a governing principle over the internet, finally bowing to years of advocacy.
How is Seattle taking the news, besides celebrating?
Well, a significant part of the FCC's decision includes a move to "preempt state laws that limit the build-out of municipal broadband internet services," according to the NYT. We don't have to contend with those laws in Washington. But places like Chattanooga, Tennessee, do. In that city, the public utility successfully developed a gigabit fiber internet network, sent Comcast running for the hills, and now wants to expand to other cities.
Upgrade Seattle, the new group pushing for a similar municipally run gigabit network in Seattle, released this statement in response to the FCC's decision:
Not only do we celebrate today's FCC's vote on net neutrality, we are also emboldened by their decision regarding municipal broadband. The vote recognizes that the Internet is too important to leave up to private companies who aren't directly accountable to residents to provide a fast and equitable service to all neighborhoods.
For too long areas of Seattle have been underserved by existing providers. This decision is part of a growing movement recognizing the need for cities to establish their own Internet as a public utility. The City of Seattle will be releasing the results of their own municipal broadband study this April.
Upgrade Seattle will be making this an issue during the upcoming City Council races, encouraging informed civic discourse, and documenting and sharing the wide support from all corners of the city. People interested in following our campaign can find us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our email list via our website at upgradeseattle.com.
Mayor Ed Murray also praised the FCC's decision today, but he stopped short of committing to pursue municipal broadband. Here's the top comment responding to the mayor on Seattle's Reddit: "Great, now can we have broadband public utility please?"
President Obama listened to Reddit on this (and thanked its users today). Murray should, too. I wrote more about how the city has missed its own "broadband for all" goal this year, and how it's time for the mayor to jump in on municipal broadband, right over here.