Over the last few years the FCC has breathlessly proclaimed to be dedicated to both data integrity and transparency, but has fairly consistently failed at both. The FCC and NTIA's joint broadband data mapping efforts, for example, resulted in a $300 million, wholly unreliable broadband availability map that hallucinates both competition and available speeds. For fear of making any big companies mad, the FCC also proudly decided to omit pricing data from the map, lest someone notice how uncompetitive the United States broadband market is.
In July the FCC proudly proclaimed that they'd be taking over full management of the broadband map from the NTIA, in the process shifting more of the responsibility for broadband deployment data collection on to the FCC's shoulders. The agency won't, however, begin collecting data on broadband pricing, and refused to offer a decent reason.
"While this Report and Order does not collect pricing or more granular subscription data as some parties have requested, it leaves the door open to do so," interim FCC boss Mignon Clyburn said in a statement addressing the changes.
Granted that if said pricing data shows up (probably unlikely with a former lobbyist about to take over the FCC), there's a great likelihood that it would be about as unreliable as the agency's data on broadband speeds and availability. Consumer advocates were quick to point out that the reason the FCC doesn't publish pricing data is because the industry doesn't want them to.
"We’re deeply disappointed that politics once again trumped the public interest at the FCC. The Justice Department, the National Broadband Plan, numerous prior FCC proposals, the current acting FCC chairwoman, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and the incoming FCC chairman have all identified the need to collect broadband pricing data," consumer group Free Press said in a statement. "But because powerful broadband companies oppose the collection of any information that would show just how uncompetitive this market is, the FCC is once again refusing to collect the basic data it needs to do its job."
Simply having a broadband availability map is a step up from previous FCC practices (like oh, saying a zip code was wired for broadband if just one person in that zip had high speed Internet), but not by a whole lot. This is, after all, an FCC that hand in hand with industry likes to pretend that our broadband competitive issues don't exist, so having an inaccurate map that supports this narrative is at least consistent.
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Another FCC Failure
Labels: Broadband Data Mapping, Broadband Map, Broadband Pricing, FCC Failure