On Friday, TechFreedom filed comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Notice of Inquiry (NOI) concerning the availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans. Rather than treating this proceeding as the reporting exercise Congress intended in enacting Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Commission uses this docket to elicit public support for its continued attempts to rewrite the Telecommunications Act in what is arguably the largest regulatory power grab in American history.  

“Section 706 is a reporting statute, not an independent authority to regulate broadband,” said James Dunstan, General Counsel of TechFreedom. “Congress tasked the FCC in 1996 with annually providing it an update on the progress of broadband deployment. Section 706 contains no additional grant of regulatory powers to the FCC, despite claims in the NOI. Additionally, the FCC seeks data and policy support that far exceeds the statutory mandate of Section 706. In short, the Commission seeks data it isn’t authorized to seek, to use toward ends that it isn’t authorized to pursue.”

“The NOI justifies increasing the speed benchmark based on entertainment uses of the Internet,” Dunstan concluded. “To be clear, what the NOI is saying is that it should be the goal of the U.S. government to ensure that consumers can watch Netflix and play Call of Duty, not do their homework or have a tele-visit with their doctor. Until the FCC can produce accurate data for the actual bandwidth speeds required in a post-COVID lockdown world for education and telehealth, it should not increase the benchmark speed for broadband. It is folly to demand that everyone have access to—and be able to afford—a Ferrari when a Honda Civic can get you to the same places. Trying to allocate limited public funding on that rationale will only result in some people getting more service than they really need while others, who are harder to serve, get less help than they should—or none at all.”


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About TechFreedomTechFreedom is a nonprofit, nonpartisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.