Polka to Hill: First Do No Broadband Deployment Harm

Matt Polka

Matt Polka

American Cable Association president Matt Polka has good news and bad news for Congress.

That is according to his testimony for a hearing on infrastructure Wednesday (Feb. 13) in the Senate Commerce Committee.

The hearing ranges over a number of transportation sectors--railroads, airports, trucking--with Polka the only witness on the transport of bits and bytes over broadband.

The good news is that broadband providers are investing $75 billion annually in infrastructure, fixed and mobile, with no end in sight to that investment. Suggesting a sort of Hippocratic Oath for broadband deployment, Polka said government first and foremost should do nothing to harm that investment. 

The bad news is that 1) unnecessary barriers still exist that hinders deployment and more needs to be done to remove those and 2) the digital divide still needs closing.

But even the bad news wasn't that bad. He said that Congress, the FCC and Rural Utilities Service have all made headway on closing the divide. 

But in the "more can be done," Polka offered up ACA's four principles for a broadband future:

"(1) respect private investment; (2) remove barriers to deployment; (3) before adopting additional programs to close the digital divide, account for additional deployments in unserved areas resulting from the removal of barriers, the recently enacted tax law, and existing federal and state support programs; and (4) provide broadband subsidies efficiently," which it says means in "unserved," "high-cost" areas.

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.