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FCC ruling boosts County’s chance of municipal broadband




(Buffalo, NY) – In yet another action in support of Public broadband, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has approved an order to pre-empt state laws that limit the build-out of municipal broadband Internet services. In their ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “You can’t say you’re for competition but deny local elected officials the right to offer competitive choices."

This was a critical step towards making municipal broadband a reality in Erie County. Erie County Legislator Patrick B. Burke identified access to the internet as a major hindrance in the economic and social growth of the region. Studies show that communities with gigabyte service have on average a 1% GDP increase over those without the service. In a region with a 45 billion dollar GDP, a 1% increase is a significant amount of growth to the local economy. This does not account for the social stability this project could account for as an educational tool. The region has an education crisis as well as a lack of upward mobility. Access to the internet is a critical tool that can help close the gap between the have and have-nots.

Burke had this to say, “We need to improve the access, speed and affordability of our internet in this County. I am willing to work with providers to ensure a better product but where that is not possible, we will push forward to operate a County owned network that will facilitate the components of internet that are not provided to our community.”

Legislator Burke formed a committee to analyze the viability of a municipal broadband network in Erie County. The Committee is expected to release their findings next week.