Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Broadband mapping" -- a favorite diversionary and delaying tactic of incumbents

Defining and Mapping Broadband Will Ensure Scarce Resources Are Used Effectively to Establish Universal Service, ITIF Testifies Before U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee | ITIF: To understand the current landscape of broadband offerings, the government must continue to define and map broadband service. Definitions of broadband in law or regulation should be grounded in what is actually offered, not a prospective or aspirational goal, and should avoid getting too far ahead of trends, or risk unduly shaping the services offered. The FCC generally takes the right approach in defining broadband, with some notable exceptions, said Brake. He pointed to the recent decision, as a component of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2015 Broadband Progress Report, to adjust their definition of “advanced telecommunications capability” upwards from 4 to 25 Mbps download as an unfortunate change in the “definition” of broadband. This decision was rightly controversial, as the 25 Mbps threshold seemed carefully chosen to paint a particular picture of industry, defining away competition, and unhelpfully focused on the lack of overbuilds in areas that are uneconomical to serve. We should continue to map broadband access, said Brake, and the FCC is generally on the right track with its data collection.
So-called "broadband mapping" is a favorite diversionary tactic employed legacy incumbent telephone and cable companies. Instead of a truly useful plan for modernizing the nation's metallic telecommunications infrastructure with fiber connections serving every American household, business and institution, the "broadband mapping" tactic keeps the focus on the minutia of "broadband speeds" and what "broadband speeds" are offered in a given neighborhood. The gambit also serves the needs of incumbents by creating delay as various stakeholders debate the accuracy of the maps rather than building urgently needed fiber to the premise (FTTP) telecommunications infrastructure.

Framing the issue in terms of "broadband speeds" instead of FTTP infrastructure enables incumbents and their antiquated metallic infrastructures built for telephone and cable TV service decades ago since these infrastructures must naturally constrain Internet protocol (IP) throughput given their limited carrying capacity. Public policy shouldn't enable the delaying of technological progress. Instead of managing "broadband service offerings" over the incumbents' vertically integrated infrastructures, the policy the United States needs now and for the future is to fund a crash federal initiative to bring open access FTTP networks to every American doorstep. The nation is already a generation late in building it. Policymakers should reject further delaying tactics by legacy incumbents hell bent on fighting the future.

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