FCC Commissioners McDowell and Pai on 706 Report

From FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell’s statement:

“It is discouraging that, for the third year in a row, the majority has decided to clutch to its earlier negative findings as to whether “advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion” pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  In reality, the growth of broadband deployment in America, especially regarding the mobile marketplace, has been swift and strong.  For instance, between 2003 and 2009, broadband deployment steadily increased from reaching 15 percent of Americans to 95 percent of Americans.

Furthermore, mobile broadband is the fastest growing segment of the broadband market.  America has always led the world in wireless connectivity thanks to de-regulatory policies and our lead is growing.  For instance, our country has approximately 21 percent of the globe’s 3G/4G subscribers and approximately 69 percent of the world’s LTE subscribers even though the United States is home to less than five percent of the global population. Furthermore, the investments made by American wireless providers have been higher than their international counterparts.  For example, in 2011, over $25 billion was invested in United States’ wireless infrastructure compared to $18.6 billion invested in the 15 largest European economies combined.

From FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s statement:

From 1999 to 2008, the Commission found that broadband was being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. In 2010, however, this suddenly changed.

Despite our general economic problems and the current regulatory environment, the private sector deserves credit for what it has been able to accomplish recently when it comes to infrastructure investment. Communications network operators invested $66 billion in 2011. According to State Broadband Initiative data, private sector investment brought fixed terrestrial broadband service meeting the Commission’s speed benchmark to 7.4 million Americans and mobile broadband service to 46.7 million Americans from June 2010 to June 2011.

The Commission has consistently ignored in recent years the statute’s direction that “advanced telecommunications capability” may be deployed “using any technology.” That instruction does not permit us to segregate fixed connections from mobile connections, focusing on the former and neglecting the latter.