Tag: national broadband plan

The Executive Summary of the Executive Summary

In a highly symbolic gesture, the Federal Communications Commission published the executive summary of its “National Broadband Plan” in one of the most opaque formats going: It’s a PDF scan of a printed document.

This means you can’t cut and paste the bullet point that says:

“Increase civic engagement by making government more open and transparent, creating a robust public media ecosystem and modernizing the democratic process.”

Can an agency that publishes documents in inaccessible formats be relied on to deliver transparency? Did you know that this is Sunshine Week?! Let’s segue from symbolism to substance … 

That bullet and the many that accompany it explode the FCC’s proper authority and propose an industrial policy fit for . . . well, the industrial age—not that industrial policies were any good then.

The executive summary is 56 bullets broken into four sections, and six “goals” carefully crafted to avoid measurement with nebulous concepts like “affordable.” (We all want it, but affordability is subjective. Nothing is universally “affordable” while it bears a price tag.)

The one goal that is measurable is telling in its own way:

“Goal No. 6: To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.”

(Why should it take broadband to monitor your energy consumption? Does the FCC plan to send out scanned PDFs of photos of your electric meter?)

Whether we should have a network-managed energy system or not, note how the Federal Communications Commission’s “broadband” plan would make it a player in the energy business. It would also be a player in health care. And education. And “economic opportunity.”

As to the latter, maybe the FCC has a leg to stand on. Expanding the current “universal service” tax-and-subsidy scheme would provide economic opportunity of a sort to the better lobbied firms in the telecommunications industry.

As I wrote before, in an even more summary way, “The Federal Communications Commission should be shuttered.” That’s still the gist of what I have to say about the “National Broadband Plan.”

The National Broadband Plan Is Bad. Period.

I’ve seen plenty of stories and gotten a fair number of calls from reporters about the national broadband plan. They generally want to get some insight from down in the weeds of the communications world. What do you think of this part? What do you think of that?

But I’m keeping my eye on the ball: This is another industrial-policy boondoggle. It’s a government spending program, created by the so-called “Recovery Act,” that will distort the communications marketplace, and it comes at the cost to taxpayers of having their resources taken from them and handed out to the firms that are best equipped to lobby for government succor.

I don’t care which community gets 1-gigabit connections. The money to pay for it should have been left with the American people to spend as they choose—on 1-gigabit connections if they choose. The debt overhang produced by all this spending makes us worse off, not better off, and the shiny bauble of hi-def, two-way video doesn’t change that.

The Federal Communications Commission should be shuttered. That’s the gist of what I have to say about the “National Broadband Plan.”