Every year, the FCC is required to come out with a report on broadband competitiveness. Every year, it's a joke. Way back in 2006, the GAO looked at the 2005 report and pointed out that the FCC's methodology sucked
and was highly inaccurate. Basically, the FCC looked at whether or not a single node in a zip code was wired for broadband (defined at some laughably low rate), and declared that the provider offered service across that entire zip code. On top of that, it relied on the broadband providers themselves to let the FCC know who was covered. So, in theory, you could have a zip code where only two houses were covered by broadband, and the FCC would define that entire zip code as not only covered, but a competitive market. That was in 2006. Yet, the FCC basically ignored the GAO and kept putting out
its bogus reports each year, even as the GAO continued to highlight the problems
of the report.
So here we are, years later, and the FCC has finally, finally, finally
changed its methodology and for the first time released a report admitting that all is not well in the US broadband market
. As Broadband Reports notes:
The report ditches the inaccurate zip code determination, and takes the long-overdue step of bumping the minimum definition of broadband from just 200 kbps, to at least 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
I should admit, by that definition, even I don't have broadband at home. To be honest, I'm less concerned about the amount of people who have access to broadband, as I am about the actual level of competition, which isn't really covered by this report. Still, it's amusing to see how angry the telcos and some elected officials are about the FCC finally telling the truth.
A telco lobbying organization, US Telecom immediately trashed the report
saying it "strained credulity." And, it didn't take elected officials long to start grandstanding as well. Rep. Cliff Stearns wasted little time blasting the FCC report
, saying he was "perplexed" by the report.
Perhaps we can clear up some of the confusion. You see, it appears that over the course of Cliff Stearns career, the single largest contributor to his campaign was (you guessed it) AT&T
. Oh, and as for this year's campaign, it's probably worth noting that while AT&T is still his top contributor Comcast and Verizon are number two and three
respectively, and closing in fast. And, of course, in the last election (2008), Stearns' top two contributors were AT&T and the National Cable & Telco Association
. Verizon was fourth. But I'm sure that has nothing
whatsoever to do with Stearn's confusion over the FCC report. Couldn't possibly be... And people wonder why every day citizens think that DC is corrupt.