With a looming showdown over net neutrality bumping up against his internet-heavy State of the Union address, President Barack Obama continued his weeklong dance with telecommunications giants on Wednesday in Iowa, unveiling plans to challenge state laws that limit the expansion of high-speed broadband access.
The ambitious plan aims to make small US towns more powerful economic players by cracking laws that benefit major internet service providers. Obama praised the “visionary move” of the city of Cedar Falls to upgrade its broadband network, a move that has angered the major telecoms companies. But Obama showed no signs of backing down in pushing for an expansion of cheaper and speedier access – but also more competition.
“In too many places across America, some big companies are doing everything they can to keep out competitors,” Obama said. “Today I am saying we are going to change that. Enough is enough.”
After privacy advocates pushed back on cybersecurity measures announced by Obamaahead of Tuesday’s speech before Congress, open internet advocates are already pleased with the president’s plan to write a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, asking the agency to look at how it can undo restrictions on municipal internet service.
Large telecommunications companies have aggressively lobbied to rein in the growth of these smaller providers. In 19 states, these efforts have proved successful, with laws in place to block, or slow the growth of, municipal internet service providers.
Holmes Wilson, co-director of the nonprofit digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, told the Guardian that Obama’s broadband rollout is a “a wonderful and obvious step”.
SOURCE: Amanda Holpuch