USTelecom: Broadband Report Is Commission's Failure

USTelecom, which represents some of those fixed broadband networks the FCC says have failed to deploy in a reasonable and timely fashion, turned that verdict back on the commission, if only to make the point that the failure the report revealed was of the FCC to reach the conclusion the facts suggested.

Following the latest in a series of annual reports under Democratic chairs that reached that conclusion—a summary was released this week—USTelecom fired back Friday.

“It would seem that the FCC’s report should carry the headline ‘our policies have failed’ since it concludes that six years after adoption of the national broadband plan, the commission’s actions haven’t produced even so much as a ‘reasonable’ level of broadband deployment," said USTelecom president Walter McCormick.

But McCormick's point was that the FCC was wrong to suggest any such failure had occurred, no matter on whom the blame was being laid.

"But, of course, with more than $75 billion a year being invested by broadband providers, network capacity burgeoning, and speeds increasing exponentially – as the commission's latest fact-based broadband measurement report shows – no one actually believes that deployment in the United States is unreasonable," he said.

McCormick suggested the FCC was engaged in the "cynical" process of justifying further broadband regulation rather than accurately reflecting the marketplace, and had been doing so for some time.

Under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, the FCC is authorized, or at least asserts the authorization, to move various regulatory levers to achieve that reasonable and timely benchmark.

"Unfortunately," said McCormick, "this annual process has become a cynical exercise, one that eschews dispassionate analysis, and is patently intended to reach a predetermined conclusion that will justify a continuing expansion of the agency’s own regulatory reach.”

That includes the network neutrality rules that USTelecom is fighting in court, and which FCC chairman Tom Wheeler identified last week in blogging about the report as one of the regulatory levers the FCC is using to encourage that timely and reasonable deployment.

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.