OTI Says FCC Report is ‘Out of Touch’ with Pandemic Reality

Press Release
April 24, 2020

In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a report that concludes broadband internet service “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” These conclusions run counter to the recommendations that OTI filed last year, which urged the FCC to include affordability in its analysis and to avoid the same flawed data sets that have skewed prior FCC reports on this subject.

Congress requires the FCC to report annually on whether advanced telecommunications capability “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,” and to take “immediate action” if it is not. Today marks the third consecutive year that the FCC has issued an affirmative conclusion in this report. The last time the FCC issued a negative finding, in 2016, the agency took strong actions to promote competition and expand access to broadband.

The following quote can be attributed to Joshua Stager, senior counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“This report is out of touch with what is happening in America. The ongoing pandemic has laid bare a stark reality: millions of people do not have reliable or affordable access to the internet. This problem actively undermines our efforts to combat COVID-19, including stay-at-home orders that wrongly assume people have home access to online services.

“Despite all of this, Chairman Pai chose today to conclude that broadband is being deployed ‘in a reasonable and timely fashion.’ This conclusion strains credulity, and we know it is based on faulty data. It also fails to grasp that the pandemic has undeniably raised the bar for what ‘reasonable’ broadband looks like. The FCC needs to recognize this crisis for what it is, stop playing with bad data, and take stronger action to help people get online and stay connected.”

Related Topics
Affordability Transparency and Data Internet Access & Adoption