On February 4, 2019, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) joined Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, United Church of Christ and members of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Media/Telecom Task Force in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expressing concern over proposed findings in the agency’s upcoming Broadband Deployment Progress Report.
Under Section 706 of the Communications Act, the FCC is required to produce an annual Broadband Deployment Progress Report to analyze the status of broadband deployment throughout the United States. For years, the FCC reported that, due to the millions of Americans who still lack access to high speed broadband at home, broadband is not being reasonably and adequately deployed throughout the country. However, in the 2017 Progress Report, the Commission drastically changed its findings. The Commission altered the methodology used to measure connectivity and concluded that broadband is being reasonably and adequately deployed. Despite the public outcry to shifts in the inaccuracies in the the report, the FCC plans to make the same conclusion for its 2018 Broadband Deployment Progress Report, which is scheduled for publication sometime this month.
NHMC joins allies in requesting the following from the FCC:
- The Commission should measure advanced telecommunications capability and deployment in the 706 inquiry by looking to its practical purpose: its use by people in the United States.
- The Commission should take a forward-looking approach and update its benchmark speed for evaluating advanced telecommunications capability.
- The Commission should reaffirm its previous conclusion that adequate access to advanced telecommunications capability means access to both fixed and mobile broadband service. These services are complementary, not substitutes for each other.
- The Commission should not conclude that the current deployment of advanced telecommunications capability is “reasonable and timely,” and should take action to adopt subsidies, support tax policies and digital inclusion programs, and bolster robust broadband Lifeline service. Such actions will accelerate investment in broadband infrastructure, encourage broadband adoption, and close the digital divide.
NHMC continues to urge the FCC to do everything in its power to close the digital divide and equip all Americans with access to essential communications services. Click here to review the letter.