The FCC released its 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, which found that the Commission is “encouraging the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans,” contrary to past reports. But the details of the report show that there’s significant work to be done to get broadband access to all Americans.
About 24 million Americans don’t have high-speed Internet access. More than 66 percent of Americans living in rural and Tribal areas still lack access to broadband at 25/3 Mbps. And, as Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel pointed out in her dissent, more than 12 million school-aged children don’t have broadband at home to complete their nightly homework. What would these millions of people think about the pace of broadband deployment?
What may be worse, Chairman Pai and his Republican colleagues decided that they will calculate broadband progress in a new way. Instead of considering the percent of the population without access to high-speed Internet, this Commission will compare deployment in the present year to deployment in past years. Just change a formula or two and voila! Broadband deployment is reasonable and timely!
“This report concludes that in the United States the deployment of broadband to all Americans is reasonable and timely. This is ridiculous—and irresponsible,” Commissioner Rosenworcel wrote in her dissent before outlining the report’s findings that 24 million Americans still lack access to broadband. “It is premature for this agency to declare mission accomplished,” she concluded.
Commissioner Clyburn dissented as well, pointing out the huge numbers of people who remain unconnected, lambasting the report’s methodology, and charging “[manipulation] of Congressional intent.” “Critical progress reports should not rely on the ‘hypothetical’ when it comes to reaching a conclusion. Analysis based on data that shows the current state of ‘Broadband Progress,’ not misinterpreted measurements and cavalier explications of Congressional intent that tilts the scale against the needs of the consumer longing for broadband is what we need,” Clyburn wrote. “But if you are desperate to justify flawed policy, I think the straw-grasping conclusion contained in this report is for you.”
2018 Broadband Deployment Report (FCC, Feb. 2, 2018)
Commissioner Rosenworcel dissent (FCC, Feb. 2, 2018)
Commissioner Clyburn dissent (FCC, Feb. 2, 2018)