High-speed web for America
Its main mission will be to recommend how to "accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access by reducing and/or removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment."
And the issues specifically highlighted in its charter are: a model code covering local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-ways regulations; reforms of pole attachment rules; and "unreasonable" regulatory barriers to broadband deployment.
In each case, any recommendations will directly impact local and state officials who have responsibility for implementing such measures. And it is not hard to see how rules that telecoms companies may see as "unreasonable" could be seen very differently by public officials whose primary duty is to citizens.
The key argument in this case will be over the expansion of 5G technology, which to work effectively, will require huge numbers of small cell towers to be added to buildings. To be effective, and cost effective, the reality is that most of these towers will need to be on local or state government owned property.
But, local and state government typically run permitting process for such installations, which both costs money and allows local residents to have some input: two things that companies that want to get their equipment up on buildings fast don't like.
There is, of course, a good argument to be made for streamlining approval processes and for standardizing such a process across cities and states – but without sufficient input from local officials, it is almost certain that an industry bias will lead to recommendations that will not sit well with the realities on the ground.
That may then put the FCC in the position of attempting to force changes past public officials, creating problems further down the line.
In short, it is bad policy making.
One of many
This is also just the latest example of an FCC that appears to be working hand-in-hand with Big Cable and the Republican Party in order to bypass others.
Most recently, the FCC announced a plan to redefine what "fast internet" actually means, mirroring a blog post from a cable trade association that used an outdated speed measure to claim that the broadband market was highly competitive.
In the ongoing fight over the FCC Pai's efforts to get rid of existing net neutrality rules, a recent letter from Democratic congressmen pointed out that the main argument put forward to getting rid of the rules is the cable industry's claims that it has cut back investment. Such claims may or may not be true but, regardless, the FCC's job is to develop policies that consider everyone, not just cable companies.
Then there is the ongoing saga over the FCC's public comment process, where the regulator claimed that a flood of public comments criticizing its actions was a cyberattack but has refused to provide any evidence of it. And where it continues to maintain an API for receiving mass comments even after that system was widely abused by people using others' identities to push a pro-Pai message.
A revised version of the anti-net neutrality proposal demonstrated a clear bias for cable company comments. And a talking points memo sent out by the Republican Party's headquarters to congressmen, in support of the FCC's plan, was found to have been written by the cable industry. ®