The FCC ’s National Broadband Plan: A Preliminary Critique through the Lens of Adaptive Policymaking Richard S. Whitt Director/Managing Counsel, Telecom and Media Policy Emerging Communications 2011 San Francisco, CA June 28, 2011
“ The national broadband plan … shall seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability and shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal.” By March 17, 2010 , the FCC was required to submit to the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Commerce Committee “ a report containing a national broadband plan .” Congress Speaks…
Nine Principles of an Adaptive Stance Cautious Macroscopic Incremental Experimental Contextual Flexible Provisional Accountable Sustainable Humility is essential. The big picture. Evolutionary, not revolutionary. Necessity for experimentation. Well-grounded and context-dependent. The need for flexibility. Favor reversibility. Test, monitor, and honor. Politically adoptable and achievable. Policymakers are beset by powerful influences that favor the status quo over change and progress.
Institutions: Rules of the Game Constitutions Laws Regulations Policies Co-Regulation Bully Pulpit Self-Regulation Codes of Conduct Standards Norms Degree of formality , coercion , accountability , and enforceability .
Organizations: players of the game. Bunch of people playing poker Each player in an entity (corp, policymaker) Organizations: Players of the Game Interaction between players and rules shapes institutional change.
The Plan suffers as part of the “shoot, ready, aim” approach -- ideally we needed data first, then the policy, and then the money spent. Thanks to Congress and the previous FCC, we got the reverse instead.
“ Alpha or beta”?
The FCC needs to be serious about treating the Plan as in terminal beta, always learning and iterating and evolving.
The FCC runs the risk of sounding too much like the top-down specialist, rather than employing a bottom-up approach that relies on states and local communities.
The Plan remains largely aspirational; the heavy lift will be in the many proposed implementing rulemakings, which will take many months and even years to resolve.
Stage 1: Baseline Assumptions Stage 2: Overall Objective Stage 3: Data “Mash-ups” Stage 4: Metric Screens Stage 5: Defined Benchmarks Stage 6: Resource Analysis Repeat Optimal Approach: An Evolving Plan We should aim to facilitate an environment that over time stimulates investment and innovation in -- and usage of -- broadband technologies and applications. The framework should engender a flexible, iterative, and comprehensive process. Stage 7: Focused Projects Stage 8: Interim Evaluation
Broadband Deconstructed “ Communications/transportation/information/ entertainment/ interactivity” infrastructure What it is What it is not The Internet. Internet access. A content delivery system. A box of widgets. Your vegetables.
Recommendation: allocating 500 MHz by 2020; 300 MHz by 2015
Talk of repacking the TV spectrum, less than a year after the DTV transition
Only 20 MHz (at best) of additional unlicensed spectrum
Reliance on auctions: only benefits the big incumbents?
Does repurposing broadcaster spectrum amount to replacing free TV with pay TV?
More shoot, ready, aim?
Why not first do the full inventory of currently allocated spectrum, so we know exactly what we have and how efficiently it is being used?
Tools like secondary markets and technological sharing measures through underlays/overlays could help alleviate presumed spectrum shortages.
Then we should take an inventory of the total potential available spectrum resources, including government spectrum, broadcaster spectrum, AWS III, etc., and determine how best to reallocate for other purposes.
Does unlicensed get short shrift in the Plan?
TV White Spaces may be gone if Rockefeller bill is adopted