Industry Groups Highly Critical of FCC Broadband Report

Argue commission is missing mark and furthering policy agenda with its conclusion on deployment
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The FCC caught flak from a number of industry groups for its
conclusion on Tuesday that broadband is not being deployed in a reasonable and
timely manner.

That disputed conclusion came in the FCC's congressionally
mandated 706 report
on the state of advanced telecom deployment, which it
released Tuesday, Aug. 21.

"This FCC report became obsolete before the ink dried
because it is based on obsolete law and comically obsolete technological
assumptions," said Netcompetition.org chairman Scott Cleland. "This
report is an anachronism and a waste of taxpayer funds," he said.
Netcompetition.org members include the National Cable and Telecommunications
Association and the American Cable Association.

Broadband for America (BfA) cochair and former Rep. Harold
Ford Jr. called the FCC assessment inaccurate because it overlooked the vast
private-sector investment. The report did cite that investment, but concluded
it was not enough.

BfA pointed out that according to FCC data as of mid-2011,
96% of households had access to wired broadband and 99% had access to wireless.
The FCC talked about advances in wireless broadband in its report, but does not
include that toward the deployment benchmark -- it did ask in a notice of
inquiry in the report whether wireless should count going forward.

"The FCC's 706 report discounts the significant efforts
being made by the private sector -- despite uncertainty for investment stemming
from a persistently weak economy and repeated attempts by the Commission to
exercise greater direction and control over this inherently unpredictable yet
consistently innovative sector -- to continue building out broadband
infrastructure," said the Internet Innovation Alliance in a statement. "Contrary
to the FCC's assertions, more government control over the telecommunications
industry with new rules is absolutely not a prerequisite for closing the
digital divide."

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation also took
issue with the commission. "The FCC's latest 706 Report on the progress of
broadband deployment in the United States reaches the erroneous conclusion that
we're not making reasonable progress toward bringing broadband networking to
all Americans," the group said.

The commission said that because there were still 19 million
households unserved by fixed broadband, that meant that it was not being
deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to "all" Americans
[emphasis FCC's], suggesting that benchmark would not be met until there was
100% access.

"The report's conclusions are not supported by the
evidence, do not conform to the statutory direction of the 1996
Telecommunications Act, and overlook the non-adoption problem that actually
dwarfs the deployment problem by an enormous degree," said ITIF.

The Free State Foundation, which has been pushing for less
regulation of broadband, saw the report as buttressing a foregone conclusion.
"The FCC's chairman, Julius Genachowski, may claim the FCC's action in
releasing the Broadband Deployment report is data-driven," said Foundation
president Randolph May. "But it is rather clear that the report's
bottom-line determination that broadband is not being deployed on a 'reasonable
and timely' basis is philosophy-driven. And the philosophy driving the
majority's determination is a pro-regulatory one -- a mindset that will look to
regulation first to try to manage a dynamic communications marketplace."

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