The Secret to Smart Policies About Smart Cities

Coverage Type: 

[Speech] I want to talk about the secret to smart policies about smart cities.  I can summarize my idea in one word.  Learning.

A major tactic in the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to regulate cities is through its Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) process. The stated, and worthy, goals of the BDAC are to accelerate and broaden deployment of next-generation broadband networks and reduce the digital divide. However, the BDAC suffers from significant failures of design and execution. The failures are threefold. First, the BDAC did not have a balanced membership that could have lead to a real consensus between stakeholders. Second, the BDAC started from the false assumption that industry does not have the leverage to negotiate the deals it needs to make investments in new networks, an assumption the industry acknowledges is false. Third, BDAC did not understand how to use a negotiating process to create value for both sides, by focusing on how each can give up on something small to get something big.  Instead, it primarily focused on forcing cities to give carriers what the carriers wanted.But underlying these three failures is a failure to learn anything.

We have a lot of work to do and a lot to learn to achieve the outcomes we desire. But I trust cities can do that learning in ways the FCC has shown itself incapable of doing.

[Blair Levin is the Executive Director of Gig.U. He also serves as a Non-resident Senior Fellow of the Metropolitan Policy Project of the Brookings Institute.]

The Secret to Smart Policies About Smart Cities