Zoom in / FCC Chairman Ajit Bae says goodbye to members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee who testify during a hearing on June 16, 2020, in Washington, DC.

In one of his recent acts as chair of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai decided to stick to the FCC standard for 6-year-old broadband which is 25 Mbps and 3 Mbps upload speeds.

The decision was announced yesterday at the FCC Annual Broadband Deployment Report, Released the day before Bay’s departure from the FCC. As in all of the years prior to Pai’s presidency, the report concludes that the telecom industry is doing enough to expand broadband access to all Americans – despite Democrats at the FCC arguing that the facts do not support that conclusion.

The Bay report said:

We found that the current speed standard of 25/3 Mbps remains a suitable metric for evaluating whether the fixed service provides advanced communications capability. We conclude that fixed services at speeds of 25/3 Mbps continue to meet the legal definition of advanced communications capabilities; That is, such services “enable.”[] Create and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics and video communications. “

Under United States law, The Federal Communications Commission is required to determine annually whether “advanced communications capacity is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely manner” and “take immediate action to accelerate deployment” and enhance competition if current deployment is not “reasonable and timely.” Maintaining the standard 25/3 Mbps for home internet services, which has not changed since then January 2015, Makes it easy for Pai to award the telecom industry and the FCC an annual report pass score. Pai’s annual reports also evaluated mobile Internet deployment at various speeds, but it did not adopt a single speed standard to determine whether mobile service is “advanced”.

Jessica Rosenworsel, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission who may be the next chair of the commission, has repeatedly argued that the FCC should adopt a higher speed standard for home internet service. “With so many service providers in our country rolling out gigabit, it is time for the FCC to adjust its baseline upwards as well. He said Last year, it required a download standard of 100 Mbps and a download standard above 3 Mbps.

“At the moment, our standard is 3 megabits per second,” she said. “But this asymmetric approach is old. We need to realize that with extraordinary changes in data processing and cloud storage, upload speeds must be rethought.”

EBay: ISPs are doing enough despite rural gaps

The report released yesterday concluded that “advanced communications capacity is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis” and that “the rural-urban gap is rapidly narrowing; the gap between the percentage of urban Americans and the proportion of rural Americans who have access to 25 / fixed broadband has decreased. At almost half the speed of 3 Mbps, it decreased from 30 points at the end of 2016 to only 16 points at the end of 2019. ”

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In a press release, Bay played his purported role in expanding broadband access, saying, “Since my first day as president, the FCC’s top priority has been bridging the digital divide.” In addition to expanding home internet services, he cited FCC data showing that “at the end of 2019, mobile phone service providers provided 5G service to nearly 60 percent of Americans, a figure much higher today.”

Today Bay also released an List For what he considers to be his accomplishments as chairman of the FCC, including “restoring Internet freedom” – the phrase to liberalize the broadband industry and eliminate network neutrality rules.

Bay’s victory periods are “indecent”

Democrats from the FCC objected to Bay finalizing the broadband deployment report yesterday rather than letting the job pass to the Biden administration.

“Over the past two years, I have decried the unwarranted triumphs that these reports seem to spawn,” said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. He said. “Now – with tens of millions of Americans finding themselves unable to access school, work and healthcare online during the pandemic – backbiting is particularly inappropriate.”

Despite Pai’s rosy conclusions – the inaccuracy of the FCC data, which It tends to lower than count Americans with no broadband connection – The report contains evidence supporting Starks’ concerns about the continuing digital divide. As of the end of 2019, only 4.4 percent of Americans lived in areas with no home internet service at a rate of 25/3 Mbps, but the data for rural and tribal areas paints a much worse picture. With home internet speeds of 25/3 Mbps, there is no coverage for 17.3 percent of rural areas and no coverage for 20.9 percent of tribal areas. Overall, there are about 65 million people in rural areas in the FCC data and about 4 million people in the tribal areas.

Nearly 99 percent of urban areas have 25/3 Mbps access, and 95 percent of urban areas have access even at 250/25 Mbps access. But only 66.8 percent of rural areas and 63.7 percent of tribal areas have access to speeds of 10/10 Mbps, while 55.6 percent of rural areas and 49.6 percent of tribal areas have access to speeds of 10/100 Mbps per second:

Internet deployment data from home at various speeds as of end of 2019.
Zoom in / Internet deployment data from home at various speeds as of end of 2019.

This data is based on enumeration groups and calculates the entire enumeration block as presented even if only one house in the enumeration block can get the service. EBay FCC The process started To collect geospatial data from ISPs to improve accuracy, but this task will be completed under whoever President Biden chooses to be chair of the FCC.

Evidence that contradicts Bay ‘surrounds us everywhere’

Rosenworsel He said The Bay report obscures the “hard truth that the digital divide is very real, very large” and that it “confuses the logic Today The Federal Communications Commission decided to release a report saying that broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely manner.

And Rosenworsel said evidence that contradicts Bay’s conclusions “surrounds us everywhere”:

There are people sitting in parking lots with free Wi-Fi signals because they have no other way to get online. There are students who fall into the homework gap due to the lack of the high-speed service they need to participate in distance learning. There are mayors in cities across the country who are calling for better broadband so that their communities have a fair view of the success of the digital age.

When Biden defeated Trump in the election, Democrats in Congress Bei called To follow up on the previous practice of stopping “working on all partisan and controversial issues” during the transitional period. Bay was not obligated to do so – despite taking the opposite position Four years ago When the then chairman of the board was Tom Wheeler Complied Equivalent demand from Republicans in Congress.

Starks argued that yesterday’s report was so controversial that it was not approved when the FCC was about to switch from Republicans to Democrats. Starks said:

I must point out that this report should not have been released at all. After the elections in November, congressional leaders wrote to President Bai to request the commission to stop working on all partisan and controversial provisions during the presidential transition. This item is both.

However, President Bay refused to withdraw the report as requested by Commissioner Rosenworsel. His reasoning – that the report has no legal significance – clearly conflicts with the Communications Act, which directs the commission to take “immediate action” if it decides that advanced communications capacity is not being deployed to all Americans on a reasonable and timely basis. This decision should have been left to the next administration, who could have addressed the matter before the legal deadline.

“Rush and waste” in support of the FCC

Bay has consistently claimed that his editorial agenda has promoted broadband deployment, although evidence to the contrary is found in Statements made by internet service providers to investors And modern Cuts In large internet service providers Network spending. Bei also has The data are described Demonstration of broadband progress even after the FCC team warned that it was based on incorrect filings by the ISP.

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Even Bay’s direct efforts to bridge the digital divide have been controversial. Pai replaced the FCC’s Connect America Fund for a similar, and more recently, rural digital opportunity fund Awarded $ 9.2 billion in funding to be distributed over 10 years. But instead of waiting for more accurate broadband data to better direct funding to the areas that need it most, Bai went ahead with distributing funding weeks before leaving the FCC.

The subsidies are supposed to go to “high-cost” areas where ISPs would not have a good business case to deploy without government funding. But consumer rights group Free Press has been examining the funding grants in a series of reports One report The eBay program is “support.”[ing] Broadband for the rich. “

Some of the funding went to existing census blocks inside From the effects of Comcast and “other ISPs, places with little demand for broadband” either because no one lives or even works there, or because they often do not have residential real estate and the few businesses there may not need advanced services, “Frey writes. Press at Another analysis yesterday. The group said Bay’s broadband legacy is a legacy of “hurry and waste.”

Yesterday a bipartisan group consisting of 157 members of Congress sent a Message Baye and other FCC commissioners urged to ensure that money was not spent incorrectly:

We urge the FCC to verify that every provider in fact has the technical, financial, administrative, and operational skills, capabilities, and resources to deliver the services they have entrusted to each American they plan to serve, regardless of the technology they use.

Americans “need the FCC to fight for them”

Advocates of tougher regulation of broadband service providers are happy to see eBay leave. In four years as president, Baye has embraced a “radical agenda that rolled back from consumer protection, rubber stamped business wish lists, and even …” Weakened the legal authority of his agencyChief Advisor Joshua Steiger of the Open New America Institute of Technology He said yesterday, Referring to Pai’s decision to cede the FCC’s Title II regulatory authority over broadband providers. “We look forward to turning the page on this chapter in the FCC’s history and urging the new leadership to set a new course. The American people still need the FCC to fight for them.”

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