Press Release

Public Knowledge Files Comments Concerning FCC Broadband Inquiry

September 21, 2017 , , ,

Today, Public Knowledge, joined by Access Humboldt; Access Sonoma; Appalshop; Benton Foundation; Broadband Alliance; California Center for Rural Policy; Center for Rural Strategies; National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income clients; National Hispanic Media Coalition; and X-Lab, filed comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s recent Notice of Inquiry concerning its annual investigation into broadband deployment.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“The Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to examine the availability of broadband annually. In the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2008, Congress gave the FCC further instructions on how to collect data in ways that would be useful for broadband policymaking. It is indisputable that more data, collected in a more granular way, would aid the Commission, Congress, and other policymakers in establishing a proper policy framework for improving broadband deployment.

“Unfortunately, this year, the Commission may disregard the intent of Congress and instead conduct its analysis in a way that hides the true state of broadband in the United States. For example, it proposes to consider ‘whether some form of advanced telecommunications capability, be it fixed or mobile, is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,’ despite the evidence showing that, overwhelmingly, Americans who can afford it use both fixed (home) broadband connections and mobile devices. Although the Commission should examine the availability, adoption, performance, and price of both mobile and home broadband, consumer preferences show that the two products are not substitutes for each other. If you need home broadband, just having a mobile phone is not good enough.

“If conducted in the way the Commission has proposed, its inquiry will be of little use for those who are interested in improving broadband in the United States, which in many ways continues to lag behind other countries. Rural, minority, and lower-income communities, which often face the most challenges relating to broadband, would be harmed the most from an FCC determination about the availability of broadband that is at odds with reality. In a world where communities are crying out for help to participate in modern society, an agency tasked with acting in the public interest should not take a step backward that will make it more difficult for communities with deficient broadband to get the help they need.

“We urge the FCC to conduct its inquiry in a way that provides the most useful data to policymakers and does not unnecessarily conflate different modes of broadband access.”

You may view the filing here. Please read our latest blog post, “How The FCC is Using Legal Gymnastics to Excuse Itself From Getting Americans Internet Access,” for more information.