San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has resigned from his role on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. In a letter to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, Mayor Liccardo describes a working group that is entirely dominated by broadband industry representatives and their goals.
The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) was set up by the FCC last year and will be providing recommendations this year on how to expand broadband. According to the mayor’s letter, the group’s domination by industry interests means municipal broadband and many local government concerns are being left out in the cold.
This became particularly apparent at our most recent meeting in Washington, DC. 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.” Liccardo’s letter says.
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.
One Democratic member of the Commission, Mignon Clyburn, also criticized the industry focus of BDAC and raised concerns about whether the public will ultimately be served.
Current recommendations from BDAC will make it harder for local governments to control how network providers do business and will also limit municipal broadband networks.