Pai Sec. 706 Review Critics Create #MobileOnly Challege

The Pai FCC's decision to review what qualifies as high-speed broadband has drawn a crowd of critics armed with smartphones and other devices.

Almost a dozen groups including Public Knowledge, New America’s Open Technology Institute, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) have launched the #MobileOnly challenge. Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, participants will spend an entire day only accessing the internet via a mobile device. The idea is to demonstrate that mobile has various limitations that make it not a sufficient substitute for wired broadband.

FCC Chairman AJit Pai in August proposed to, potentially, adjust the sights on the agency’s annual assessment of whether advanced telecommunications is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion, including counting wireless broadband as competitive with wired.

That cam in a request for information on the state of competition in the video marketplace for the FCC’s 19th video competition report, as well as for input on its 13th Section 706 report.

Internet service providers have long argued, along with Pai, that the FCC had been putting a thumb on the scale for regulation by concluding that because deployment was not 100%, that deployment was not reasonable and timely.

CWA to FCC: Wireless is No Substitute for Wired 'Net

In seeking comment on the next reports, Pai proposed considering other factors in that determination, including asking whether the FCC’s definition of high-speed should be adjusted.

But fans of the previous reports cried foul, and have been characterizing the proposal as lowering the definition of high speed as 25 Megabits per second downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

At a congressional hearing and in a letter to Congress, Pai downplayed concerns about downsizing the high-speed benchmark, saying the letter that the item “clearly proposes to maintain the [25 Mbps downstream/4 mbps upstream] standard.”

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.