Award Winning Blog

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The FCC’s 2018 Broadband Report: How Do You Politicize a Statistical Report?

            One of the blessings and curses of my calling includes the perceived duty to read as many key FCC documents as possible.  Of late, it challenges my credulity, serenity and faith in the democratic process.

            Consider the FCC’s 2018 Broadband Deployment Report,  Until this year, the FCC dutifully provides statistics, perhaps framed in ways to support a policy objective.  But until now, not one statistical report included a partisan jab.  Despite lots of blabber about empiricism and humility, someone thought it fair and balanced to couple regularly reported statistics with an unsupported assertion that the 2015 Open Internet Order singularly caused a decline in the pace of increased subscribership and network performance during the last two bummer Obama years.

             In a statistical report, mandated by law, the FCC deliberately fails to consider other factors that may explain a slowing in broadband deployment and adoption, such as a maturing marketplace, the affordability of broadband service, particularly for rural and low income individuals, and carrier investment emphasis in content having recently concluded a major rollout of next generation 4G wireless broadband networking capacity.

            In a bizarre attempt at having its cake and eating it too, the FCC attempts to show how broadband deployment suffered under Chairman Wheeler, but of course Chairman Pai has quickly righted wrongs so that the FCC can conclude that broadband deployment now satisfies the so-called Section 706 congressional mandate to determine whether every American has adequate broadband access.

            In a remarkably failed triple bank shot, the 2018 Broadband Report notes how rural broadband deployment has gravely slowed down, even as elsewhere it reports that rural penetration has reached 98%.  Might serving the last few unserved rural areas in American trigger the highest cost per household passed?  Might reaching the last 2-3% become infeasible, or at least result in slower progress?  Apparently there’s no reason other than the network neutrality burdens.