Cities, Counties Seek More Broadband Input at FCC

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) is not the only one pushing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to get more state and local government input on the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) he created with the charter of committeesourcing ways to close the digital divide.

In a letter to the chairman copied to the other commissioners, which was obtained by B&C/Multichannel News, the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties, said that if the committee is to continue, "We also request you provide for an appropriate level of local government representation."

They defined that "appropriate level" in some of the same terms as those proffered by Eshoo in her letter to Pai:

  1. "Address the perception that BDAC is solely interested in pursuing industry goals by making all meetings public, and sharing drafts of all BDAC working documents on the FCC’s homepage – in so doing, the Commission and the BDAC would be the beneficiaries of input from a broader group of stakeholders."

   2 "Enhance the scope of the BDAC’s mission to consider the broadband industry's responsibility for the broader deployment of wired and wireless broadband services while increasing network quality and lowering the costs to all Americans, including those in rural and low-income areas – today, the BDAC focuses solely on city and state regulations and matters such as pole attachments, missing many other obstacles to broadband deployment, such as broadband industry provider practices and market structure; and

   3. "Provide sufficient time for the BDAC to develop informed opinions that can be shared in interim final reports that are made subject to public review, and guarantee that there is an extended public comment period on materials offered by the BDAC before finalizing any BDAC reports..."

They also want that local input considered before the FCC moves on proposals to boost broadband deployment by easing local rights or way and tower-citing, including shot clocks on localities--or even preempts state and local regs.

The cities and counties said that was the way to make BDAC "more transparent, data-driven, balance3d and forward looking.

They also suggested that BDAC should "document" the need for targeted federal subsidies for deploying in low-density areas.

A spokesperson for the chairman was not available at press time.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.