Tennessee’s attorney general has asked a federal judge to review the recent Federal Communications Commission order that would allow EPB to expand its fiber optics infrastructure to neighboring counties.

The petition contends that the FCC has “unlawfully inserted itself” between the state of Tennessee and its political subdivisions. The petition for review was filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals late last week.

“This is a matter involving a claim of federal pre-emption by the FCC and Tennessee’s right to determine the authority and market area of a political subdivision organized under Tennessee law,” Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said in a statement.


The state argues that the FCC exceeded its own legal authority when it decided to pre-empt a 1999 state law that limits municipalities from providing broadband Internet and television services outside the territories where they sell electricity. EPB, a city-owned utility company, sought the federal agency’s decision after failing to get the law overturned through the Legislature.

“Hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans face economic and educational disadvantages because they have little or no Internet access,” EPB President Harold DePriest said. “We respect both state and federal authority on this issue and are working at all levels to remove regulations that prevent more Tennesseans from gaining access to broadband.”