AMERICA'S FEDERAL COMMUNICATION COMMISSION (FCC) has triggered speculation that it could dodge its commitment to get all Americans on superfast broadband because they have smartphones.
The latest annual inquiry by the FCC into the state of broadband includes a section (706, since you ask) that requires investigation into whether "advanced telecommunications capability" is being rolled out in a timely fashion and, as such, if it finds the answer is "no" then it must take steps to do something about it.
The FCC has found that roll-out slowed down during the Obama years (because most metropolitan areas were cabled up under Bush) and so things are very slow in rural areas. Sound familiar? Same problem as in the UK but on a massive scale.
Last year, the FCC inquiry concluded that fixed line and mobile access were independently vital. However, under new Chairman Ajit "weed-whacker" Pai, the Republicans (natch) are arguing that a 10Mbps down and 1Mbps up via a cellular connection should count as "both" without the need for a fixed line.
This, of course, will delight the FCC at large, who would suddenly start meeting all sorts of targets they hadn't met before and look like the big I-am.
However, it's worth remembering that 10/1 is a lot slower than 25/3 which is the target set for fixed line deployment.
As ever, the FCC has now entered a comment period, and will therefore be taking advice from the public, which it will probably ignore and then John Oliver will run a 20-minute rant about it on HBO.
The Notice of Inquiry (it's a bit like being ‘engaged to be engaged') says that the FCC will "analyse fixed and mobile broadband separately and then consider the totality of the evidence in our ultimate determination of whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner."
But we already know Pai would happily ditch the fixed, so it's going to have to be a pretty strong argument. Pai had criticised the previous regime for raising the standard for what constituted "fast broadband" to a point that some people went from having it to not having it overnight because of semantics. µ
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