Monday, May 15, 2017

FCC Chair Pai shows apparent lack of knowledge on wireless Internet

Pai: Wired, Wireless Appear Very Competitive To Him | Multichannel: At an American Enterprise Institute speech recapping his first 100 days, Pai was asked about that relative competitiveness by host and AEI visiting scholar Jeffrey Eisenach, who was a member of the Trump FCC transition team. Eisenach asked whether Pai thought that wireless is now a substitute for wireline. Pai said, for him, at least, "they are very competitive offerings." The "for him" is because the chairman is always careful to separate his views from what the FCC as a whole might conclude based on the fact record before it. But he suggested that fact record could be a strong one. Pai said that as 4g LTE and 5G networks get rolled out, and the next generation of Wi-Fi is rolled out, " I think we are increasingly going to see that wireless is not this 'imperfect substitute' for wired connections. "It is going to be the dominant means, the preferable means, by which people access the Internet."
This needs to be placed in the proper context. Currently, wireless networks are primarily intended to serve mobile users as a complement to premise service -- and not a substitute since even nominally "unlimited" hotspot plans come with quite restrictive bandwidth useage limitations. In addition, most industry experts don't see even the next generation of mobile wireless, 5G, being able to replace fiber premise service when it's expected to be rolled out in 2020. Assuming Pai is quoted accurately, one might hope that an FCC chair would demonstrate a greater depth of knowledge and bring a more nuanced perspective to this topic.

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