Ferree, Esbin File Comments Regarding National Broadband Plan
WASHINGTON D.C. - A national broadband strategy should complement, rather than replace, private initiative and investment, state Kenneth Ferree and Barbara Esbin in comments filed by The Progress & Freedom Foundation. The comments are in response to the Federal Communications Commission's Notice of Inquiry regarding a national plan to ensure nationwide access to broadband capability. The Commission was directed to develop the plan by the American Investment and Recovery Act of 2009.
In the comments, Ferree and Esbin, PFF President and Senior Fellow, respectively, offer four guidelines that should be included in the national broadband plan under consideration. They argue the plan must:
- Adopt flexible and dynamic definitions of broadband in order to avoid hindering innovations in the broadband market. Any definition chosen should relate directly to the purpose of the "Recovery Act" and should determine the level of broadband capability deemed necessary for economic recovery and sustainable growth. The Commission may wish to identify a range of broadband service transmission speeds to be achieved in stages rather than specify a single (and perhaps uneconomic) level of speed.
- Be based on a realistic assessment of the state of the market for broadband. The plan should take into account both availability of broadband and the actual consumer expectation and demand in individual markets. To date, market forces have successfully achieved this balance in most areas. The primary goal of the plan should be to assure access to "broadband capability" by at least one provider in areas currently not served.
- Recognize the success of the recent approach to regulation of broadband services, which encourages facilities-based competition. The FCC's "light touch" regulatory approach was an instrumental factor in achieving widespread infrastructure deployment. These policies, which have led to facilities-based competition, should be incorporated into the national strategic broadband plan.
- Refrain from widespread government intervention in light of the healthy state of competition in the broadband market. There is no evidence of broad market failure justifying regulatory intervention in the majority of broadband markets. Providers should have maximum flexibility to experiment with service offerings, rates, terms, and conditions to encourage competition. There is no need to codify the FCC's existing Internet Policy Statement as part of a national broadband strategy, which would result in unwelcome intervention in the already thriving market. The level of openness and network intermediary functionality available on any network is best determined by consumers and service providers, not regulation.
The comments are available on the PFF website. Ferree and Esbin also filed comments in April in response to the joint request for comments on broadband provisions in the "Recovery Act."
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.