WASHINGTON, February 8, 2009 – Fellow journalist Geoff Daily has a wonderful little post over on App-Rising.
Last night I had an epiphany about broadband mapping.
The challenge has long been that broadband providers refuse to make the data in their service maps transparent to the public. Their stated reason for this refusal is that this data is competitive intelligence.
But wait a minute: isn’t the whole point of mapping broadband availability to spur deployment and competition?
Don’t get me wrong, if I was an incumbent provider, there’s no way I’d willingly give up my data. There’s little upside to doing so unless I’m ready to start going hard after my competitors and they’re forced to show their cards as well.
But from a policymaker’s point of view, how is it we’ve come to accept that private providers making this data public is a bad thing when doing so would almost certainly lead to more competition?
To which I reply, Amen, Geoff!
I wholeheartedly agree with your rhetorical suggestion that “how is it we’ve come to accept that private providers making this data public is a bad thing when doing so would almost certainly lead to more competition?”
In fact, the FCC (even under Kevin Martin) agreed with you, too — or at least your analysis that it would lead to more competition!
Reacting to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit (filed by the Center for Public Integrity, when I was working there), the agency’s legal briefings argued that releasing the data would lead to competition in communications – which was why it couldn’t release the data!
“Disclosure could allow competitors to free ride on the efforts of the first new entrant to identify areas where competition is more likely to be successful,” the agency told the federal district court in Washington.
It’s inexcusable that the biggest broadband carriers have been able to ride the “broadband mapping” wave — without once agreeing to provide public data about where they offer and don’t offer service.
Readers can help make a difference in transparent broadband mapping by Taking the Broadband Census today!