The Justice Department won’t help the FCC fight against local broadband restrictions

net neutrality in jeopardy trump administration fcc tom wheeler 2
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was dealt a blow last week, with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) saying it would not assist the agency in any legal action against individual states’ broadband laws.

In its filing dated November 5, the DOJ stated briefly that “it takes no position in these cases.” The filing was referring to two specific cases that the FCC is facing against Tennessee and North Carolina. The state laws would restrict local city-run broadband projects. Refusing to take a position means the DOJ will leave the FCC to argue its point on its own.

The DOJ’s decision comes despite Obama’s administration previously backing such projects.

Locally run ISPs had asked the FCC for help in pre-empting what they called unfair state laws that hindered their ability to compete with larger ISPs. Municipal broadband providers are itching to expand their reach and offer more services, but often they are restricted by state laws.

Randolph May, a former FCC lawyer and currently a member of the Free State Foundation think tank, writes that the DOJ decision is very rare and questions the legality of the FCC’s pre-emptive moves against state laws.

“We don’t know for sure, but my best guess is that the DOJ, quite rightly, is concerned about the lawfulness of the FCC’s preemption action. If so, the concern is justified,” he said.

The DOJ still supports the FCC’s move to reclassify broadband companies as common carriers under net neutrality rules.

The Washington Post reports that if the FCC’s cases that oppose city restrictions on local broadband projects are indeed weak, it could have long term effects on the future of locally-built broadband. The Telecommunications Act, for example, does not specifically state if the FCC can pre-empt state laws. The FCC has not yet commented on the DOJ’s decision.

Gaming

Has it really been 17 years? The past, present, and future of the Xbox

From "DirectX Box" to "720," it's been a long, strange trip for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. Here is what happened, from its odd beginnings to the rumored Scarlett console with streaming.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Apple is arming up to redefine TV just like it did the phone

Curious about what Apple's answer to Netflix will be? Us too. So we combed through some patents, and looked at the landscape, to come up with a bold prediction: Apple's streaming service will be way bigger than anyone thinks.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Computing

Dodge the biggest laptop-buying mistakes with these handy tips

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

The rumors were true. Nvidia’s 1660 Ti GPU, a $280 powerhouse, has arrived

Nvidia has officially launched the GTX 1660 Ti, its next-generation, Turing-based GPU. It promises to deliver all the performance and efficiency for all modern games, but without stepping into the high price range of the RTX series. 
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Computing

Everything you need to know about routers, modems, combos, and mesh networks

Modem vs. router: what's the difference? We explain their functions so you can better diagnose any issues prior to contacting technical support. We also talk about a few variants you'll see offered by ISPs and retailers.
Computing

Metro Exodus update brings DLSS improvements to Nvidia RTX 20-series PCs

Having issues in Metro Exodus? A February 21 update for the title recently delivered enhancements to Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling feature and other fixes for low-specced PCs. 
Computing

Limited-time sale knocks $500 off the price of the Razer Blade Pro 17

Looking for an ultra-powerful laptop for yourself or someone else? You're in for some luck. Razer is running a sale on some of its best gaming laptops, cutting down pricing on the Razer Blade 15 and the Razer Blade Pro 17. 
Emerging Tech

Engineer turns his old Apple lle into an wheeled robot, and even gives it a sword

How do you give new life to a 30-year-old computer? Software engineer Mike Kohn found a way by transforming his old Apple IIe into a wheeled robot. Check it out in all its 1980s glory.
Gaming

Want to play as Iron Man or Waluigi in GTA V? Our favorite mods make it possible

Grand Theft Auto V is best on the PC for many reasons, and modifications may be the most important. You can cause riots, spawn unique cars, and play as a cop with just a few extra files.
Computing

Does the GTX 1660 Ti's leaner design make it a better GPU than the RTX 2060?

Nvidia's GTX 1660 Ti is a new Turing GPU without ray tracing or DLSS, but how does it compare to its RTX brethren? We pit the 1660 Ti versus the RTX 2060 to find out in this comparison.