Tuesday, May 31, 2005


FCC's Martin: Broadband No. 1 Priority

The new FCC Chairman has finally broken his silence on broadband . . . Surprise! It is his Number One Priority. This means that it is more important than 911 on VOIP calls, to which he's already devoted one full FCC meeting. And more important than "indecency." Meaning he'll push harder on broadband than on these other two issues. Right, Mr. Chairman?

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin revealed his Number One Priority in an interview with Drew Clark of the National Journal. Martin said,
"I think that the opportunity for the growth of individuals and for our society by increasing that connectiveness through broadband is critical, so I think that is our No. 1 priority."
But there was no further detail in Drew Clark's article about how Martin intends to act on his Number One Priority. Nor did it mention recent ITU and OECD data showing U.S. broadband penetration falling behind. Nor did he give insight into why he believes that the U.S. has "the best communications system in the world." [My calls two weeks ago to FCC press officials seeking more information on this topic remain unreturned. I'm still sitting by the phone, Mr. Chairman.]

The interview continues
Getting broadband rules right [Martin said] "will involve not only making sure we have the right regulatory framework for that infrastructure, but addressing issues like what are the services that ride over that infrastructure and what are the social obligations that go along with that like the expectation that people have to connect to local public safety officials."
[Notice how our Chairman hastens to rejoin content to conduit in the language above.]

Martin believes that,
"The free market is a better way for delivering innovation to consumers . . . The most important role of government in that sense is setting an environment in which the benefits of that free market can flow to consumers."
This must be why he's left "indecency" and 911 to the free market, letting application providers succeed or fail based on whether customers want "decent" programming and/or 911 service. (NOT! -- for these (but not for broadband?) Martin believes in FCC mandates.)

OK, Mr. Chairman. If broadband really is your Number One Priority, it is time to get busy. My own career is on the line, so I'm watching like a broadband hawk.

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