NLC Releases New Brief on Removing Barriers to Expanding Broadband at the Local Level

June 27, 2023 - (2 min read)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a new brief, released this week, the National League of Cities (NLC) reviews the landscape for local governments who want to expand municipal broadband and increase equitable access for their communities. In the brief, NLC reports that 44 percent of states limit the local ability to address broadband service delivery.

“The last few years have shown the critical need for high-speed and reliable broadband to connect residents to opportunities, reduce the digital divide and connect businesses to customers beyond their geographic boundaries. States overreach and limitations on local governments create unnecessary obstacles for local leaders’ efforts to connect their residents and communities to the broad benefits of the Internet,” said NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony.

Here are some key findings detailed in the brief:

  • Local leaders face multiple types of preemption regarding municipal broadband, many of which fall into two categories: Express preemptions or barriers to implementation.
  • Between 2019-2022, across all states, 15 have continuously used abusive preemption measures to limit local authority as it relates to municipal broadband.
  • Federal investments through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and other federal grant programs have enhanced coordination between federal, state and local partners.

Despite the challenging landscape, there are many ways in which local leaders can expand broadband in their communities, even under the constraints of state laws. These methods range from providing services through a municipal utility to working with private providers. To review NLC’s recommendations to local leaders for removing barriers to expansion, download the brief.


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.