FCC's Unreleased Broadband Report Already Drawing Fire

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At press time the Federal Communications Commission hadn't officially released its so-called 706 report to Congress on the state of broadband (specifically "whether 'advanced telecommunications capability' is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion"), but the document, which apparently finds that deployment wanting, is already rubbing at least one important legislator the wrong way.

That release was expected Tuesday, but the responses were already coming in after the report was likely briefed to legislators.

Scott Cleland of Netcompetition.org called it "stupefying" that the FCC would reach the "unprecedented conclusion" that broadband was not being deployed in a "timely or reasonable" manner.

Cleland saw the report as an effort to justify proposed new net regulations and regulatory authority.

"What is shake-one's-head unreasonable is for the FCC to take a 706 broadband 'incentives' provision of the Telecom Act and twist an FCC report to justify erecting unprecedented FCC broadband Title II regulations that would powerfully dis-incentivize broadband deployment more than any other FCC policy change the FCC has ever considered," he said.

Net competition members include the American Cable Association, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Cellular Telecommunications Association.

"Saying the private sector alone can't blanket every inch of America with advanced telecommunications capability is one thing, but implying that it's stalled is baloney," said Rep. Joe Barton. "As the FCC has already observed, 95% of the country has access to broadband and we have jumped from 8 million to 200 million subscribers in 10 years. I am willing to reform the Universal Service Fund and target any subsidies to the unserved nooks and crannies, but the FCC should not use the existence of those nooks and crannies as an excuse for imposing Washington wisdom in place of private sector performance, especially in the middle of a recession."

The national broadband plan is prefaced on the FCC's assertion that there is more work to be done by both industry and government on deployment and adoption, including higher speeds at affordable prices, and that the U.S. is lagging many other countries in some broadband metrics, though there has been hot debate over the figures used to justify that ranking.

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