Priorities for Broadband

Thinking ahead, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held an event February 2, 2017 in Washington D.C to discuss “2017 Telecom Priorities for Congress and the FCC”. Doug Brake as moderator, pointed out that policies are in flux when dealing with the rural divide as it pertains to broadband along with all of the issues involving privacy and security.

In January 2017, ITIF published a report that discusses what kind of broadband system America should have. The report asks the question, “Is America better off with an ISP industry that is structured the way the vast majority of the U.S economy is structured or do we want to transform this largely successful industry model into either a regulated utility monopoly model or government-owned networks?

Several panelists took part in discussions on what telecom priorities should move forward. Panelist Jeffrey Campbell, Vice President, the Americas, Global Government Affairs, at Cisco Systems said “Most of the country has good broadband access but there are still rural areas where broadband is not adequate. Therefore, Congress needs to discuss issues related to infrastructure but also must include funds needed in rural communities.”

Mark Jamison, Director and Gunter Professor of the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida said, “Changes should be made legislatively to give the FCC a new focus in some areas. He also commented on how important it is for the FCC to deal appropriately with rural agencies and the need to base decisions on good analytical work to determine what regulations are really needed.”

Former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, Senior Advisor for Frontier Communications also questions who will pay all the funds needed to provide the services to rural communities. She asks, “How will rural communities find the capital?”

The ITIF report points to the real reason why some other nations worldwide have higher speed broadband. According to the report, it’s because other nations have provided much more generous government subsidies to private-sector providers to deploy broadband in high cost areas.

Former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell Partner, Cooley LLP, emphasized, “We need to give a fresh look to consumer demand and take part in constructive dialogues on how to manage the competitive market place.”

To discuss many of these issues, FCC Chairman Ajiit Pai is forming a new federal advisory committee to explore ways to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet access nationwide. Some of the issues to be studied include identifying unreasonable regulatory barriers and ways to encourage local governments to adopt deployment-friendly policies.

Also, on January 31, 2017, 48 Senators along with the Co-Chairs of the Senate Broadband Caucus sent a letter to President Trump seeking to expand broadband deployment across the U.S. The letter mentions how necessary broadband is for health IT and telehealth especially in rural areas.

Go to to watch the February 2, 2017 event video. For the ITIF report titled “How Broadband Populists are Pushing for Government-Run Internet One Step at a Time” authored by Robert D. Atkinson and Doug Brake January 2017, go to then click on publications.

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