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San Jose mayor says FCC broadband committee overwhelmed by industry interests

The mayor of San Jose, California has resigned from the US government’s Broadband Development Advisory Committee, saying the panel has become dominated by telecom industry interests. The committee was set up a year ago by the FCC[1] to collect advice on how to eliminate regulatory barriers to broadband expansion in the US. Sam Liccardo said in his resignation letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai that the committee had failed to make any progress in its nine months of work towards the “goal of equitable broadband development”.

Only principles paying “lip service” to that objective had been endorsed, while the draft recommendations under discussion made no attempt to direct new resources to digital inclusion. Around three-quarters of the committee’s members are representatives of industry or their interests, the mayor noted. His decision to resign follows a meeting 24 January of the working groups, during which the industry dominance was made clear.

He said one group created a draft 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 rewrite” its model municipal code at the last minute, pushing aside months of work by the group, Liccardo said. The mayor concluded that it was “abundantly clear” the committee had been relegated to a “vehicle for advancing the interests of the telecommunications industry over those of the public”.

The apparent goal of the committee was to create rules that would provide the industry with “easy access to publicly funded infrastructure at taxpayer-subsidized rates, without any obligation to provide broadband access to underserved residents”, Liccardo said.

References

  1. ^ set up a year ago by the FCC (www.telecompaper.com)

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