FCC’s broadband deployment report called ‘fundamentally at odds with reality’

TechCrunch | 5/29/2019 | Staff
jster97 (Posted by) Level 3
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The FCC has officially issued this year’s Broadband Deployment Report, summarizing the extent to which the agency and industry have closed the digital divide in this country. But not everyone agrees with it: “The rosy picture the report paints about the status of broadband deployment is fundamentally at odds with reality,” said Geoffrey Starks in a lengthy dissenting statement.

The yearly report, mandated by Congress, documents things like new broadband customers in rural areas, broadband expanding to new regions, and all that sort of thing. The one issued today proclaims cheerfully:

FCC - Divide - Americans - Access - Broadband

[The FCC] has made closing the digital divide between Americans with, and without, access to modern broadband networks its top priority. As a result of those efforts, the digital divide has narrowed substantially, and more Americans than ever before have access to high-speed broadband.

We find, for a second consecutive year, that advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis.

FCC - Progress - Failures - Year - Latter

Naturally the FCC wants to highlight the progress made rather than linger on failures, but this year the latter are highly germane, as Starks points out, largely because one error in particular threw off the results by millions.

The statistics in the report are based on forms filled out by broadband providers, which seem to go unchecked even in the case of massive outliers. Barrier Free broadband reported having gone from zero subscribers in March of 2017 to, seven months later, serving the entirety of New York state’s 62 million residents with state of the art gigabit fiber connections. There are so many things wrong with this filing that the freshest intern at the Commission should have flagged it as suspect.

Data - Gospel - Year - Reporters - Free

Instead, the data was accepted as gospel, and only a full year later did reporters at Free Press notice the discrepancy and call it to the FCC’s attention.

That this error,...
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