Hey America! Your internet is going to be so much better this January
But probably not in the way you'd hoped
When the FCC commissioners vote to redefine internet access (and it will be a 3-2 vote along party lines), they will do so under the pretense that they went through a proper process. And low and behold, cable companies will not be required to spend millions improving internet access and speeds.
Mignon Clyburn, one of the two Democratic commissioners, is not in any way fooled by this approach, and has issued a statement [PDF] alongside the regulator's official notice.
"I am extremely skeptical of this line of inquiry," she notes about the suggestion to include mobile access alongside fixed line. She describes the proposal to shift the benchmark to what consumers subscribe to as "a race to the bottom." Overall, she notes, "it is my fear that we continue to short-change consumers."
And if all this is ringing a strange bell, it may because just two weeks ago, the US cable industry's trade association, the NCTA, claimed that it was offering more competition than ever in the internet market.
"In spite of living in one of the largest and most rural nations, 88 percent of American consumers can choose from at least two wired internet service providers," it argued. How? By completely ignoring the past two years and FCC benchmark change and relying on the 2014 definition of broadband as 4Mbps.
"Competition is alive and well in the TV and internet marketplaces and consumers are benefiting every day," it said with a straight face.
On top of which those eagle-eyed among you may have thought: so where is the 2017 Broadband Progress Report? The one following the damning 2016 report and the one where the 25Mbps standard is in force.
That is a good question: where is it? It should have been published nearly eight months ago and yet, amazingly, it never was. Not coincidentally, Pai and O'Rielly took control of the FCC one week before it was due out.
Of course, theoretically of course, the FCC is soliciting views from people about these ideas. So if you think that a federal regulator taking its cue from the companies it is supposed to oversee is not a good idea, or if you think that forcing millions of Americans to deal with slow internet speeds because it saves cable companies money, is not a good thing, you are welcome to make your views known directly to the FCC.
Where, like the net neutrality proposals, the FCC will do its absolute best to ignore them, and cable companies will do all that they can to hide or obscure them. ®
In other FCC news: Alex Nguyen, a computer-science graduate living in Silicon Valley, filed an epic 112-page formal net neutrality complaint against Verizon to the regulator around this time last year. Funnily enough, more than 12 months later, the regulator has yet to do anything about it.
Meanwhile, Ajit Pai is facing conflict-of-interest allegations: back in the day, he used to work as an attorney for Securus Technologies, a landline provider for prisoners, and now as FCC chairman he has "vigorously and consistently taken actions to undercut all federal regulation" of inmate telephone services, it was claimed this week.