Government Accountability Office Slams FCC Over Broadband Competition Data… Again
from the bureaucratically-defined-competition dept
Last year, the GAO put out a report slamming the FCC’s data on broadband competitiveness. The FCC used a system whereby if a single household in a zipcode could receive broadband, they assumed that entire zip code could. Thus, if two broadband providers existed within the same zip code, no matter how non-competitive they were, the FCC considered that entire region perfectly competitive. The GAO has now done a more complete study of the FCC’s competitiveness data, and it only gets worse. Someone who prefers to remain anonymous points us to the report which rips apart the FCC’s methodology (warning: annoying pdf file). As if to be clear, the report’s title is: “FCC Needs to Improve Its Ability to Monitor and Determine the Extent of Competition in Dedicated Access Services.” They’re not shy about their findings either. The report looks at services for businesses, rather than consumers, but the findings are pretty stark. In various metropolitan areas, they only found competition in 6% of buildings. In certain areas that are considered to have “high demand” the number only goes up to 10 to 25%. Furthermore, the report found that while overall prices have decreased, it only was due to regulatory pressure to push down prices. In the areas where the FCC claimed there was competition and removed regulatory control of pricing, pricing tended to rise. The report also criticizes the FCC for its data collection methods, noting they never revisit an area to determine if competitiveness changes — despite companies going out of business or being bought up by others. Finally, some of the data collected comes from third parties who have no obligation to provide the data or be truthful about it — and the FCC has no process for verifying the data. Perhaps that’s why they turn down requests to see the underlying data. All in all, it’s pretty damning, but so was the report this past summer about their practices, and what’s happened since then? Absolutely nothing. Don’t expect this to change any time soon, either.