Last week, I wrote about the 6th Circuit’s decision in the muni broadband case, TN v. FCC. I mentioned in passing that the opinion pretty much keeps the status quo. Then I found from a reader about Pinetop, N.C.
As reported here and here, Greenlight, the muni provider of Wilson, N.C., took advantage of the FCC’s 2015 Order and began offering gigabit broadband in Pinetop, population 1400. Pinetop lies in Edgecomb County, next door to Wilson County. Under the 2010 N.C. anti-muni law, Greenlight could serve anyone in Wilson County but not go outside Wilson County to neighboring Edgecomb County. But Wilson decided to take a shot and honor Pintetop’s request to provide service (Greenlight already provides electric service in Pinetop as a muni electric provider, so it wasn’t much of a leap).
The legal situation on this is now somewhat complicated. The 6th Cir. had not stayed the FCC’s preemption order in 2015, so it was totally legal for Greenlight to offer service. What is unclear now is how to read NC law now that it is “un-preempted” by the Sixth Circuit overturning the FCC. I admit I have no idea how to even begin to answer this question.
But it’s not an abstract legal question. The availability of broadband in Pinetop matters a great deal to the people of Pinetop.
Stay tuned . . . .