Taking it to the FCC

Recently the FCC has been flooded with testimony arguing for universal high speed internet access. Reaching that goal requires the FCC to collect more comprehensive data on the current state of high speed connections across the country.

Earlier this month the Alliance for Public Technology (APT) made a strong case for the FCC to begin doing so. In comments submitted to the agency, ATP Public Policy Chair Robert Atkinson – who recently wrote a comprehensive paper for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on the need for universal high speed internet access – made a series of recommendations that would significantly boost the FCC's data collection:

  • Collect more detailed subscriber data down to 9-digit zip codes
  • Measure number of homes with high speed access.
  • Use data from telecom companies and government agencies like the Census Bureau.
  • Implement an automated voluntary reporting tool for consumers to assist with data collection.
  • Analyze high speed internet prices between regions and address discrepancies.

The Communications Workers of America made a similar argument in their comments about the need to collect better data:

Unfortunately, we do not know the full extent of our problems because our data on high speed broadband deployment, subscribership, speed, and price is so poor. Without adequate information, it is difficult to craft good policy solutions. So we continue to fall farther behind. This has serious implications for American competitiveness, job creation, and our ability to improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities through network-based solutions for health care, education, public safety, government service delivery, and civic participation.

The bottom line is that improving data collection is the first step toward bringing all Americans into the digital age. Now that the FCC has heard several compelling cases for the importance of high speed internet, it must get started implementing those recommendations. As APT notes,

Broadband services are no longer a convenience; they are increasingly an essential part of life and economic growth in present day society. Broadband services are as vital as transportation for consumer welfare and overall economic strength… Virtually every aspect of our lives can be significantly enhanced with access to connections with high-speed capability in both directions. Those consumers who do not have access to broadband services could well be left behind in the growing digital society.

Alliance for Public Technology

A Clear Case for a National High Speed Internet Policy (Speed Matters)

Alliance for Public Technology Warns FCC: U.S. at Risk of Becoming Gated Digital Communities

Comments of Communications Workers of America to FCC

Comments of the Alliance for Public Technology to FCC

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