FCC Opens Annual Inquiry on Broadband Deployment

Although the Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act of 2018 (RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018) amends section 13 of the Communications Act of 1934, and requires the Federal Communications Commission, “in the last quarter of every even numbered year” to publish a “Communications Marketplace Report,” that, among other things, “assess[es] the state of deployment of communications capabilities, including advanced telecommunications capability (as defined in section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. [section]1302)), regardless of the technology used for such deployment.” While section 402 of the RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018 makes several conforming edits to the Communications Act and other communications-related statutes, it does not amend section 706 of the 1996 Act. Therefore, the FCC’s charge to “annually . . . initiate a notice of inquiry concerning the availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans,” is unchanged except that in even numbered years, the Broadband Deployment Report will be included as part of the Communications Marketplace Report.

FCC Commissioner Jessica did not approve this Notice of Inquiry saying, "I fear that today’s inquiry sets the stage for an unfortunate repeat of last year’s Broadband Deployment Report. That report found—despite clear evidence of 24 million Americans without high-speed service—that broadband deployment nationwide is both reasonable and timely. It ignored too many people in too many places struggling to access high-speed service and dealing with connectivity that falls short of what is necessary for full participation in the digital age. Moreover, this inquiry fundamentally errs by proposing to keep our national broadband standard at 25 Megabits per second. I believe this goal is insufficiently audacious. It is time to be bold and move the national broadband standard from 25 Megabits to 100 Megabits per second. When you factor in price, at this speed the United States is not even close to leading the world. That is not where we should be and if in the future we want to change this we need both a more powerful goal and a plan to reach it. Our failure to commit to that course here is disappointing."

GN Docket No. 18-238

Comment Date: September 10, 2018

Reply Comment Date: September 24, 2018


FCC Opens Annual Inquiry on Broadband Deployment