While this is not the first time the Federal Communications Commission has pursued Title II regulation purportedly to address net neutrality, it is the first time the FCC has reached beyond the no blocking, degrading, or prioritizing principles to which broadband providers already adhere. The FCC is veering into the complex realm of cybersecurity and national security via top-down regulation rather than collaborative partnership, a choice many experts view with skepticism.
I’m here to talk about why and how against this backdrop we as a nation need to graduate to a fundamentally new mindset with regard to how our government partners with and approaches technology … leaving behind a mindset rooted in fear and articulated through regulatory fiat … and re-rooting in the modern-day reality of an interconnected planet driven by the tools and technology of broadband.
More than 30 years since the first honk and screech of commercial dial-up, there is a conspicuously empty seat at the collective table of global high-speed connectivity. Six companies account for half of all internet traffic worldwide. These six companies have a combined market cap of $9 trillion. It’s a far cry from their garage start-up days, and without question, they are tremendous American success stories. However, does it still make sense that the government and broadband providers alone fund broadband infrastructure?
In the wake of the bipartisan resolution on the debt ceiling, Congress now has the opportunity to take another timely and unifying step forward for our nation—one that will help ensure a connected economy in which everyone can fully participate in its many opportunities. Nearly $42.5 billion in federal broadband infrastructure investment is poised to begin flowing to the states. With broadband providers and communities ready, willing, and eager to proceed, the single most intractable barricade remains—the ability of the gears of government to grind all progress to a halt.
This is a moment steeped in optimism about our connected future. There are many opportunities to join forces—across government, industry and community organizations. Collectively, we can get big things done. Our current project is to achieve connectivity for all. And, according to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act timeline, if we all hit of our marks, that goal could be achieved by the end of this decade. The question I’d like to pose is this: We have always seen universal connectivity as the end goal.
Broadband companies are lworking with local and state leaders to bring their resources, expertise, and connections to finish the job of connecting everyone in the US to the power and opportunity of broadband. As they forge alliances to close their digital divide, several criteria are critical:
USTelecom's third Broadband Pricing Index documents continued substantial price reductions for both the most popular and highest-speed broadband service offerings. Over the past year, as overall inflation reached deeper into consumers’ wallets, broadband prices resisted. In fact, adjusting for inflation, prices for providers’ most popular broadband service dropped by 14.7% from 2021 to 2022. Similarly, prices for the fastest-speed services dropped by 11.6%.
California should follow the lead of other well-managed states and streamline its broadband application process and focus on connecting unserved areas and promoting public-private partnerships. Streamlining California’s broadband application process will maximize the funding that needs to be allocated so unserved communities can get connected to broadband.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) is currently on an unsustainable financial path, funded by a regressive surcharge on a shrinking base of telephone customers. If it isn’t fixed, and fixed quickly, the fund won’t be able to meet its mandate and fulfill its connectivity promise – not just to the next generation, but to the current one. So how do we fix USF?
In order to move quickly but also deliver a successful and efficient Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, the Commission should make its decisions with the following principles in mind: