The FCC has touched off political football brouhaha with a report that says broadband services are not rolling out fast enough to the 14-24 million U.S. residents who don't have them. The last FCC broadband deployment report, issued in 1999, didn't touch on the subject of more speed; this time, even with more Americans than ever connected to high-speed pipes, it's a key element.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, suggested that the report supports the agency's push for a national broadband plan. FCC member Robert McDowell, a Republican, disagreed and said the conclusion was a "180-degree reversal" from the previous report and "confuses facts by substituting the terms 'deployment' and 'subscribership' as if they were synonymous and interchangeable."
Another Republican, Congressman Cliff Stearns of the House Communications Subcommittee, also took issue with the report, saying he was "perplexed" because "approximately 95 percent of the country has access to broadband and two-thirds subscribe."
Stearns' comments eerily echoed a Verizon (NYSE: VZ) statement attributed to Kathleen Grillo, SVP-federal regulatory affairs that said, "It makes no sense that, after the national broadband plan concluded that 95 percent of Americans have access to wireline broadband, the FCC majority now suggests broadband deployment is not reasonable and timely."
Verizon, she pledged, will "have to work to ensure that broadband reaches the remaining 5 percent of American households."
FCC's broadband plan to carry $25B price tag
FCC to plow ahead with broadband plan, lawyer says