Rural communities are some of the most vulnerable populations to public health threats. People living in rural areas have less access to health care because of fewer providers and facilities and more transportation barriers. Telehealth is one opportunity to improve access to care, but it comes with barriers itself, like access to consistent and reliable internet service.
Municipal broadband networks enable high-speed internet connections that can support patients’ connectivity to providers remotely, allowing them to meet “face to face,” share data and information, and receive care.
Yet, some states are limiting the authority of local governments to set up these networks. Our research on state preemption captures state laws that regulate municipal broadband and whether and how the state may preempt local control of broadband agreements and service provider relationships.
We find that as of November 1, 2022, there are 22 states that have state-level laws regulating municipal broadband. About half of those (10 states) expressly preempt municipal broadband and the remaining 12 still create barriers.
Access more information about state preemption, including the data on municipal broadband.