FCC grabs ankles for industry lobbyists San Jose mayor says, but in a nicer way

26 January 2018 by Steve Blum
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The Federal Communications Commission is only interested in listening to big telephone and cable companies, according to San Jose mayor Sam Licardo. He resigned from the FCC’s broadband deployment advisory committee yesterday, following two days of frustrating meetings that were dominated by industry lobbyists and other corporate hacks. Licardo said in his resignation letter that the industry bias was blatant…

One working group, which did not have a single municipal representative among its 30+ participants, created a draft model state code that included provisions to eliminate all municipal control over when, how, and whether to accept industry applications for infrastructure deployment. Another working group had an industry representative dramatically re-write its draft municipal code in the 11th hour, pushing aside the product of months of the working group’s deliberations. The result, in each case, were provisions that plainly prioritized industry interests.

It has become abundantly clear that despite the good intentions of several participants, the industry-heavy makeup of BDAC will simply relegate the body to being a vehicle for advancing the interests of the telecommunications industry over those of the public. The apparent goal is to create a set of rules that will provide industry with easy access to publicly-funded infrastructure at taxpayer- subsidized rates, without any obligation to provide broadband access to underserved residents..

The “industry representative” who big footed the subcommittee’s work was an AT&T lobbyist, according to an article by Mari Silbey in Light Reading.

Licardo resigned after signing on to a “minority report” prepared by the City of McAllen, Texas and also joined by New York City. “Despite many hours of hard, earnest work by representatives from across the nation and the ideological spectrum, the work product developed by the BDAC is, with some exceptions, decidedly not representative of the views of all stakeholders nor grounded in legally viable solutions”, the report read.

BDAC wrapped up two days of meetings on Wednesday. Once final recommendations have been made, the FCC will move forward on further preemption of local and state authority according to FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly, when he spoke at the CES show in Las Vegas earlier this month.