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Richard Whitt - Presentation at Emerging Communications Conference & Awards (eComm 2011)Presentation Transcript
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…
… As The FCC Confronts Big Challenges
Rapidly-changing markets and technologies
Economics of communications infrastructure
Lack of timely, relevant, and objective broadband deployment and adoption data
Shortage of time to develop and adopt a plan
New leadership and personnel
Congress ’ mandate for the FCC to provide a plan to establish national broadband capability and to determine benchmarks was made more challenging by various impediments.
The FCC ’s Plan: Some Key Findings
Nearly 100 million Americans lack broadband at home today.
14 million Americans do not have broadband access even if they want it.
A wireless spectrum shortage could impede U.S. leadership in wireless mobile broadband services.
More useful applications, devices, and content are needed to create value for consumers.
The nation has failed to harness broadband ’s power to transform government services, health care, education, public safety, energy conservation, economic development, and other national priorities.
The FCC ’s Plan: Some Key Goals by 2020
Affordable access to actual download speeds of 100 Mbps & actual upload speeds of at least 50 Mbps for 100 million homes.
500 MHz of newly available, additional spectrum for mobile broadband by 2020, with 300 MHz made available by 2015.
Everyone should have affordable access to robust broadband , and the means and skills to subscribe.
Every community should have affordable access to at least 1 Gbps broadband service to anchor institutions .
Every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband public safety network.
Everyone should be able to use broadband to support energy-related applications , including tracking and managing real-time energy consumption.
Some Current Rulemakings/Inquiries
Intercarrier Compensation Reform
“ AllVid” Gateway Proposal
Strategic Spectrum Plan/Assessment
Broadcast TV Spectrum Innovation
TV White Spaces
Spectrum Sharing/Wireless Backhaul
Pole Attachments/Rights of Way
Public Safety/D Block
II. Adaptive Policymaking
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.
III. A Brief Critique
Old issue, new guise:
the role of network infrastructure in society
Challenges for Policy Makers
Some Concerns at the Outset
“ Shoot, ready, aim”
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.
Role of Competition and Innovation
Goal: Creating more competition and innovation
Problem: wireline duopoly, lack of wireless substitution
Recommendations: special access reform (middle mile), local competition petitions, access to ROW, data roaming, more spectrum
Despite the fact that the FCC ’s own outside consultants found that wholesale networks create choice and competition, the Plan shies away from wrestling with the unbundling/separation issues.
No structural separation, no unbundling, no ISP open access, no firm commitment to preventing copper retirement
Does the FCC depend too much on the current broadband market?
The vertical integration model is largely accepted.
How the consumer gateways and set top box issues are addressed in the rulemakings will be the big difference in whether the television successfully can become an Internet platform.
Problem: lack of spectrum allocated for broadband
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
And the Big Question: Authority
FCC jurisdiction over broadband?
The D.C. Circuit ’s Comcast decision cast grave doubt over the FCC’s authority to implement some key aspects of the National Broadband Plan.
The Plan itself relegates the issue to a single page – and assumes such jurisdiction exists.
Doesn ’t the potential success of the Plan rest in large part on whether the FCC even has the authority to carry out its many proposed broadband initiatives?