Free Press Blasts FCC for Asking Questions Already Answered

For Immediate Release

Free Press Blasts FCC for Asking Questions Already Answered

Agency Proposes to Redirect Universal Service Funding Without Accurate Broadband Data

WASHINGTON - Federal
Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski released his
proposal to revamp the Universal Service Fund and a Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking to update its broadband data collection efforts at the
agency’s open meeting Tuesday.

The FCC began its efforts to reform its broadband data collection
practices in 2007. After receiving input from industry, consumer and
public interest advocates, state utility commissions and independent
researchers, the FCC concluded in 2008 that it should collect granular
data on where broadband is available and committed to moving to a final
rule by fall 2008.

However, despite repeated calls to collect this data, the FCC has
failed to do so, and today's announcement proposes the same questions
that were first asked in 2007.

Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner made the following statement:

"Today's FCC meeting agenda finally makes it clear that Chairman
Genachowski's oft-repeated mantra of running a 'data-driven' agency is
nothing more than an empty slogan that he's unwilling to back up with
actual policy.

"It is simply stunning that on the same day the FCC is proposing to
hand over billions to industry to build broadband networks, it is still
asking whether it’s a good idea for the agency to collect basic data
about where broadband is deployed and how much it costs. Chairman
Genachowski needs to explain why, nearly three years after the FCC
concluded it should collect broadband deployment data, his staff is
issuing a notice full of the same questions that already have been asked
and answered numerous times.

"And while we're pleased the FCC is taking another baby step toward
reforming the Universal Service Fund, the agency still cannot answer the
basic question of where subsidies are actually needed to ensure
services are available at reasonable prices. The companies that profit
from USF subsidies and monopoly interconnection charges don't want that
question answered. This disconnect and the FCC's fealty to AT&T and
the telecom industry lie at the heart of why the current USF system is
broken.

"Unless Chairman Genachowski takes steps to reverse his trend of
releasing bold-sounding proposals only to retreat in the face of
industry pressure, we fear the reforms proposed today will fail to bring
rural America the benefits of broadband."

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