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Michael O’Rielly: Substantive Objections to a Government 5G Wholesale Network

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Over the last few months, various ideas have been floated about the offering of 5G wireless services via a government-sponsored network. This entire effort seems convoluted and borders on the preposterous. Just the notion of the U.S. moving away from the highly-successful, private-sector led approach that is responsible for our country’s premier position globally would be a serious misstep. In essence, it would throw a monkey wrench into one of the greatest success stories in the history of technology. At the same time, it has been nearly impossible to nail down with any granularity what exactly is being contemplated by this new “network.” To call this effort a trial balloon is insulting to balloons, as all the ideas mentioned have far less consistency than balloons, and more closely resemble a child’s bubbles. Based on what we do know, however, the entire effort is jam-packed with insurmountable problems.

Accordingly, I’ve attempted to expose a few of the issues that someone trying to create a government-sponsored 5G network would face – no matter how it was structured – and explain why it doesn’t make logical sense. Perhaps all the rhetoric and lobbying in favor of this scheme will end once people examine some straight facts and salient arguments.

No Available Spectrum Bands

In an ever-increasingly wireless world, each megahertz is being strenuously fought over. Any effort to repurpose a commercial band to new and different uses, such as this proposed network, will not occur without a huge fight (consider, e.g., C-Band discussions). Moreover, the “easy” bands to convert for advanced wireless services have already been allocated. With that avenue essentially closed, the concept being bandied about is that this new network would be “given” spectrum from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) holdings. The most likely DoD frequencies that could be used for this purpose would be in the 3 GHz band, but DoD has already thrown up multiple roadblocks to any commercial activity in these bands as a threat to its mission. I know this well, as I’ve been advocating for a complete reallocation of the 3.45 to 3.55 GHz and portions of the 3.1 to 3.45 GHz bands for commercial use. Without spectrum, there is zero chance that such a network could even function, much less succeed. Not to mention, true 5G will require low-, mid- and high-band spectrum, so it is unlikely that this nationwide network would ever be able to realize the capacity, speeds, and latency of 5G.

Even if there were some magical band that DoD would make available, federal government agency spectrum cannot be used to offer commercial services. Therefore, the minute a commercial entity tried to use the government-sponsored wholesale network to offer services, the network and any users – not to mention the DoD – would be in violation of the law and numerous FCC rules. Good luck trying to get a private company to commit to use this wholesale network when it would be immediately subject to cease and desist orders and potential penalties from the Commission, especially since the Chairman and all Commissioners have loudly objected to this wholesale network concept from the outset. And, that is even if we get to this point, because multiple lawsuits would be filed that would bring these plans to a halt immediately. Additionally, there seems to be a very low likelihood that Congress will change the underlying laws and regulations, as relevant legislative efforts in play (e.g., bills by Senators Cruz and Cornyn) seem to be taking the discussion in the direct opposite direction.

Can’t Compel Usage

Absent interpreting current law or regulations in an incomprehensible way, there is no way to require any provider to use a wholesale wireless network. Without a mandate, it means that any use will have to be completely voluntary. Given nationwide providers’ alternative plans to roll-out 5G services and their objections to this network, they clearly have zero interest in using it. And, these are the reactions before we even have clear guidance on how access to this wholesale network would be determined. Without the bigger providers’ participation, use and financial support for this new system would be left to regional providers, smaller entities, and/or new entrants. It is possible that some of these might be willing to use such a network, but their traffic load is likely to be incredibly low and wouldn’t make the overall economics work. Moreover, their usage patterns would likely peak in specific locations and not others. Yet a massive network infrastructure would have to be constructed for multiple reasons, including security (see below), notwithstanding the overall demands for its use. And, if there are new entrants who can use the capacity of and support such a network, they are also free to acquire spectrum like any other commercial entity, instead of getting a government handout.

No Tower Agreements/Relationships

Almost all wireless towers and antenna locations are owned or leased by companies unaffiliated with the large wireless providers. However, the existing contractual relationships and uncertainty surrounding the viability of this random wholesale network model means that it is unlikely that the current wireless infrastructure would be available for this purpose. To the extent collocation is not an option, that leaves constructing new towers and contracting for new antenna sites. This would make such a network build – starting from the ground up – astronomically expensive. In fact, other current spectrum holders have admittedly decided not to take this approach. It would also take a very long time, if ever, to execute these agreements and finish construction, which would increase the likelihood that any nationwide network and, more importantly the dedicated spectrum, would be underutilized if this plan was ever to be put in motion. This endeavor is not unlike plans of the recently bankrupt Alliance of American Football and its backers’ efforts to build a new professional football league from the ground up; jumping to the punchline, the vision lasted all of six weeks.

Won’t Ensure Security

One of the main reasons given for the creation of a government-sponsored wholesale network is that it is the only mechanism to secure 5G communications from interceptors and those with nefarious intentions. This line of thinking is flawed for at least two reasons. First, it assumes that private sector wireless providers don’t care about security or can’t ensure sufficient security, which just isn’t accurate. These companies have been and continue to work hard within the standard-setting bodies to incorporate security within the various 5G standard iterations. That means the protocols adopted have and will promote extensive security efforts. More importantly, these same providers know quite well that users expect security when using their networks. Thus, they have every incentive and are pursuing the appropriate steps to ensure robust, secure communications, especially in a 5G universe.

Second and equally flawed is the idea that any network, especially this wholesale one, can be completely secure. To guarantee security of the overall system, no data can be handed off to another carrier or carried by the public Internet. In other words, this network must carry all its traffic from end to end, especially in a 5G universe where computing will be diffuse and not centralized, generating unlimited exposure points. Siting wireless facilities nationwide is expensive enough but building separate fiber and backhaul systems from scratch is practically undoable. Even if this were possible, which it is not, there would be intense interest in breaking into and exploiting its communications. It effectively would be an engraved invitation for any rogue entity seeking to undermine the U.S. government’s sponsorship of the network. Also, arguing that this network couldn’t be broken into ignores the reality of past breaches of high priority U.S. government networks (e.g., DoD, CIA).

Won’t Stop China’s Global Expansion

For those worried about the communist Chinese government’s influence and resulting harmful effects, it is nearly impossible to see how hamstringing the U.S. market with a government-sponsored network will convince other countries to take similar action. Shooting oneself in the foot rarely leads others to do the same. In fact, there is no evidence showing how and no plausible argument as to why taking such a drastic step would sever other nations’ installation of Chinese equipment in their networks or curtail Chinese wireless providers from gobbling market share as they move from country to country. More problematic, there is a likelihood that the U.S.’s pursuit of such a curious path — with its added costs, extensive buildout timelines, and suspect security improvements — would drive other nations to increase their reliance on what has typically been cheaper-priced Chinese communications equipment, placing Chinese manufacturers and providers in a stronger position than those in the U.S. and other market-based countries. And, it is fairly conceivable that the Chinese government would counter our action with even more subsidies. Instead of curtailing China’s 5G global position, it may act as a further catalyst.

Government Undermining Private Sector Wireless Market

The establishment of such a wholesale 5G network would unfairly and inappropriately provide a U.S. government imprimatur over those of the private sector. This is not too dissimilar to the debate decades ago over whether there should be a government-sponsored national U.S. bank. While I have little doubt that our nation’s existing wireless providers could compete and succeed against this new network model, just the mere threat of giving this “idea” serious consideration might have negative repercussions. For instance, it might improperly increase providers’ risk for customer loss, especially government agency traffic; potentially initiate review of their borrowing costs; and generate negative public perception of their network security. Creating unnecessary doubt and market uncertainty for the private sector is a serious unintended consequence of continuing to even have the debate over this network.

On a larger scale, such a government stamp-of-approval combined with free DoD spectrum would send a signal that we are not fully committed to American capitalism. At this precarious moment in time and with global economic uprisings on the rise, this slice of socialism sends exactly the wrong signal to the rest of the world.

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Given all the issues identified, a major question remains: why in the world would we gamble our nation’s strong wireless position for a less than half-baked, flawed idea? Certainly, it makes little sense to give it any credence or pursue it in any capacity — at least until definitive solutions to the issues above and potentially others are presented. I won’t hold my breath that any attempt will be made to provide any specifics or to answer the unanswerable.

Michael O’Rielly has been a Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission since October 2013.

BroadbandBreakfast.com accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@broadbandcensus.com. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of BroadbandBreakfast.com and Breakfast Media LLC. This article was originally published on FCC.gov.

Digital Inclusion

Debra Berlyn: What’s New in 2022 for Aging and Tech?

Older adults continue at a rapid pace to adopt tech that assists the aging process.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Debra Berlyn, executive director of GOAL

It’s the start of a new year and time to view what’s on the horizon for the latest technology innovations. To our great anticipation, the most significant technology event of the year, the Consumer Electronics Show, returned in-person to Las Vegas!

CES 2022 literally rolled in with some eye-catching innovations and gadgets unveiled at CES, notably with a BMW that can change its color and patterns with the use of a phone app. CES also unveiled the usual army of robots to clean the house, provide learning skills, and entertain. The Ameca robot is “human-like” and can be programmed with software using artificial intelligence, offering both speech and facial/object recognition. Ameca will engage in conversation and complement you on your lovely red hat.

The more important technology story for consumers for 2022, isn’t just the “wow” innovations that may or may not make it to market this year, it is the tech that will enhance and improve all of our lives. This is particularly important for the aging community, who increasingly rely on tech to stay connected to family and community, and as an important component of healthcare.

Those 65 and older continue to adopt tech at a rapid pace, narrowing the gap with their age 18-29 younger counterparts. Now, over 65% of older adults have broadband at home, 44% have tablets, and 61% have a smartphone. These “basics” form the foundation for layering the more sophisticated health and wellness and smart home innovations available today, and on the horizon.

The pandemic has emphasized the importance of tech for the aging community. A recent AARP study has confirmed that technology is a “habit” that is here to stay for older adults. The past couple of years has led to an emphasis on tech devices to monitor our health, help us stay fit and get connected to our health care professionals.  We are spending more time at home for work and leisure, and while at home we want to be able to manage our energy use, home security, appliances and more.

According to the chief technology officer at Amazon, Werner Vogels, one of his primary predictions for tech this year is, “In 2022, our homes and buildings will become better assistants and more attentive companions to truly help with our most human needs. The greatest impact in the next few years will be with the elderly.”

Technology can provide solutions to make life easier for older individuals

A critical opportunity that technology provides is to solve tough problems such as how to make life just a bit easier for older individuals and address their greatest challenges as they age.  Voice assistive tech continues to be a popular device for older adults. One-third (35%) of those 50-plus now own a home assistant, up from 17% just two years ago, with the voice assistant serving as a significant tool to reduce isolation for older adults.

While the AARP study found that growth of ownership of voice assistants, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, may have slowed for younger demographic groups, ownership continues to be on the rise for older adults.

Here are several examples of innovations for the aging community:

  • The Labrador Retriever is an assistive “robot” that empowers individuals to live more independently by providing practical, physical assistance with everyday activities. The robot is a rolling container with trays that can be “commanded” to go to different locations in the home to retrieve objects and carry them to various locations. It maps the home and “learns” how to navigate the space to operate wirelessly.
  • Tech devices that enable older individuals to track several critical aging factors continue to be introduced and desired in the marketplace. The “Buddy” from LiveFreely, is smartwatch software that monitors and manages fall prediction and detection, medication schedules and reminders, and emergency notifications. With alerts to family members, caregivers and emergency services providers, it provides wearers with an enhanced sense of security and independence. The software operates on both the Apple and Fitbit device.
  • For any aging adult with mobility issues, or their caregivers, you know that just getting around can be a challenge and now there are advances to the most needed tool in aging: the walker. One company, Camino, has developed a sleeker, advanced walker with an ergonomic design, lights and improved navigation for bumps in the road to provide greater walking assurance and balance.
  • The “Freestyle,” from Samsung, is an entertainment component of the smart home for older adults. It is a projector device with accessibility features that can be used inside the home or out, to project content such as a movie, photos or messages from any smartphone onto any surface.

AARP’s 2022 study on technology trends also recognizes that the increasing older demographic has significant purchasing power in the consumer market, including for technology spending. The study found, “Tech spending in 2020 among adults 50+ is up 194% (from $394 to $1144) to modernize, update, or create a better experience online.”

It also projected that by the year 2030, “the 50-plus market is projected to swell to 132 million people who are expected to spend on average $108 billion annually on tech products.”

In the coming years, older adults will have a wide range of new and innovative products to exercise their market power and find the right technology to enhance and assist their lives as they age. Over the past decade, technology has empowered older adults to be increasingly more independent, battle isolation, and stay informed and connected.  While we can’t predict the future, the next decade should be an exciting opportunity for new innovations for the aging community.

Debra Berlyn serves as the executive director of The Project to Get Older Adults onLine (GOAL), and she is also the president of Consumer Policy Solutions. She represented AARP on telecom issues and the digital television transition and has worked closely with national aging organizations on several internet issues, including online safety and privacy concerns.  She serves as vice chair of the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee and is on the board of the National Consumers League and is a board member and senior fellow with the Future of Privacy Forum. This Expert Opinion is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Christopher Mitchell: Brendan Carr is Wrong on the Treasury Department’s Broadband Rules

The Federal Communications Commission has no excuse for why the agency finished with the same bad data it started with.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Chris Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at Institute for Local Self-Reliance

With all due respect to Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carrhis reaction to the Rescue Plan Act’s State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund (SLFRF) spending rules is way off base. As I wrote last week, the rules for broadband infrastructure spending are a good model for pushing down decision-making to the local level where people actually have the information to make informed decisions. (Doug Dawson recently also responded to Commissioner Carr’s statement, offering a response with some overlap of the points below.)

See Christopher Mitchell, Treasury Department Rescue Plan Act Rules Improve Broadband Funding, Broadband Breakfast, January 13, 2022

The Final Rule from the Treasury Department gives broad discretion to local and state governments that choose to spend some of the SLFRF (SLurF-uRF) funds on broadband infrastructure. The earlier draft of rules made it more complicated for networks built to address urban affordability challenges.

However, in coming out against the rules, FCC Commissioner Carr is giving voice to the anger of the big cable and telephone monopolies that cities can, after collecting evidence of need, make broadband investments even in areas where those companies may be selling services already. Commissioner Carr may also be frustrated that he has been reduced to chirping from the sidelines on this issue because the previous FCC, under his party’s leadership, so badly bungled broadband subsidies in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) that Congress decide NTIA should administer these funds and have the state distribute them.

Nonetheless, the issues that Commissioner Carr raised are common talking points inside the Beltway and we feel that they need to be addressed.

Background Note

The failure of the FCC to assemble an accurate data collection is many years in the making. No single presidential administration can take the full blame for it, but each of them could have corrected it.

President Joe Biden’s FCC is not yet fully assembled because of delays in appointment and in Senate confirmation, but it would not be reasonable to lay blame on the current FCC for the failures discussed below. That said, it is not clear that we are on a course for having better maps and data that will resolve these problems anytime soon.

Commissioner Carr’s Criticism 

Commissioner Carr jumps immediately into the rural vs urban frame, suggesting that the Biden Administration could leave rural families behind by allowing local governments to invest in broadband in areas where an existing provider may already claim to offer service. Outlawing this practice – which he and others close to the largest cable and telephone companies call “overbuilding” – has been a major point for Republican FCC Commissioners.

  • Rather than directing those dollars to the rural and other communities without any Internet infrastructure today, the Administration gives the green light for recipients to spend those funds on overbuilding existing, high-speed networks in communities that already have multiple broadband providers. This would only deepen the digital divide in this country.

Pardon me? Logically, it is not clear what exactly Commissioner Carr is griping about here. Using Maryland as an example, if Baltimore is allowed to spend some of its funds to ensure unconnected families in public housing have high-quality Internet access, it is not clear that rural Garrett County in the western part of the state is harmed. Local governments do not receive different amounts of funds based on whether they spend it on broadband or other allowable expenses.

See Christopher Mitchell and other from the Institute for Local Self Reliance in the Broadband Breakfast Live Online for Wednesday, January 19, 2022 — The Community Broadband Network Approach to Infrastructure Funding

Broadband Breakfast on January 19, 2022 — The Community Broadband Network Approach to Infrastructure Funding

States could be the issue. Perhaps Commissioner Carr is concerned that Maryland will use some of its SLFRF money for broadband and it will spend too much in urban areas rather than rural regions. That would be an historical anomaly, even though there are far more people living in urban areas than in rural areas who are not on the Internet. And yet, nearly all state and federal dollars have gone to rural areas for infrastructure improvements, with very little being spent to help the low-income families left behind in urban areas. There is no history of states prioritizing urban investments over rural.

Bad Data, Srsly?

What I found really galling though was this bit:

  • It gets worse. The Treasury rules allow these billions of dollars to be spent based on bad data. It does this by authorizing recipients to determine whether an area lacks access to high-speed Internet service by relying on informal interviews and reports—however inaccurate those may be—rather than the broadband maps that the federal government has been funding and standing up

It is 2022. The FCC announced three weeks ago that it did not have a timeline for better maps.  Many of us have complained for more than 10 years about the misleading and inaccurate collection of claims that the FCC advances as its understanding of where broadband exists in the United States.

Commissioner Carr has been an FCC Commissioner for more than four years, nearly all of that time when his agency was run by a Republican. For part of that time, the Republicans controlled the Presidency, the House, and the Senate. They have no excuse for why his party’s FCC finished with the same bad data processes it started with. No one was defending the FCC data or maps during those years, but the FCC did not bother to begin collecting new data.

Now Commissioner Carr claims that “parts of this country” have broadband services at speeds near 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up. OK, Commissioner. Where? Do you have a secret list? No, these are talking points to obscure the fact that Commissioner Carr and his agency has utterly failed to track precisely what “parts of this country” actually has access to broadband.

Will I agree that most, perhaps 80 percent, of the country has access to 100 by 20 Mbps? Yes. But that doesn’t matter if no one can agree which homes are well-served. And it opens up a whole other set of questions that Carr neatly sidesteps, which is that contemporary broadband service goes beyond the academic question of whether an ISP provides that service most of the time at some price. If the price isn’t affordable, then there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Or as we like to say, if it’s not affordable, it’s not accessible. And, if the service is not very reliable, then there is a problem that must be addressed.

This is why the final rule is both necessary and good: because it allows communities the flexibility they need to address not just the gaps in infrastructure, but reliability and affordability as well. But of course Commissioner Carr should know that we do not have this information at the federal level, because I’m quite sure he opposes collecting pricing and other information. Despite the many instances in which providers have lied to the Commission in presenting the areas they offer service, Carr objects per se to local evidence gathered via interviews to understand where broadband actually is.

A Prediction: This Is Not A Problem

It is remarkable to see the amount of performative horror Commissioner Carr expresses at the prospect of a city like Baltimore using some of the Rescue Plan dollars to ensure its families in public housing are on the Internet, even if a cable provider could theoretically sell them Internet access for $75/month, or provide a subsidized service if they jump through all the right hoops. Compare that to the silence from the Commissioner when it became clear that the largest telephone companies took billions of dollars in broadband subsidies and might have forgotten to upgrade their services.

The SLFRF Treasury Rules give the appropriate amount of deference to local and state leaders to act in an utter void of information about what is available to each home. Commissioner Carr is deeply worried – because the largest cable and telephone companies are deeply worried – that some places will use these dollars to build networks that are unneeded or would create too much competition for the existing companies.

My prediction is that communities will not do this. Of course it’s not zero: a cardinal rule of dealing with large numbers of humans is that there are always outliers. But of the cities that allocate some of their SLFRF dollars to broadband infrastructure, they will overwhelmingly focus on areas where there are real affordability and reliability challenges from existing services. The reality is that very few of these investments will result in any material losses to existing ISPs, but the monopoly providers know that even modestly opening the door to locally built and operated infrastructure driven by community-driven solutions could open the floodgates to the competition they fear so much.

Commissioner Carr has spent years as one of a very small number of people that could correct the abject failure of the FCC to collect useful information about broadband deployments. The rest of us have had to move on and figure out how to work in the absence of data. The best option is to allow for local decision-making where they can collect evidence and act. And most importantly, they will have to take responsibility for their actions and lack of action in ways that FCC Commissioners often do not.

Editor’s Note: This piece was authored by Christopher Mitchell, director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Community Broadband Network Initiative. His work focuses on helping communities ensure that the telecommunications networks upon which they depend are accountable to the community. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. This piece was originally published on MuniNetworks.org on January 20, 2022, and is reprinted with permission.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Ron Yokubaitis: GOP Putting Partisanship over Reform with Gigi Sohn’s FCC Nomination

Nominated by President Biden as Federal Communications Commissioner, Sohn understands the real reason net neutrality is necessary.

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The author of the Expert Opinion is Ron Yokubaitis, CEO of Golden Frog

The Federal Communications Commission has persistently gotten communications wrong for the past 20 years, even before broadband was a thing.

The commission was supposed to oversee telecommunications networks while leaving the then-nascent internet alone for the most part, but they dropped the ball. Gigi Sohn is the right person to help the FCC get back to its open access roots.

The 1996 Congress envisioned an open, interconnected, interoperable and user-centric internet that offers users “control over the information they receive” and facilitates “diversity of political discourse.” Congress knew that these goals necessarily required an underlying telecommunications infrastructure that was also robustly competitive and itself open, interconnected and interoperable. That is why they enacted new laws basically adopting and extending the FCC’s even then longstanding Computer Inquiries regime that made the internet possible to begin with.

“Broadband” is now provided over fiber. Even broadband wireless requires fiber for backhaul. These are telecommunications facilities, that are – or should be – subject to the FCC’s regulatory jurisdiction. Firms providing fiber-based transmission for a fee are – or should be – common carriers. That, in turn, means they must interconnect, interoperate with and sell network access to other telecommunications carriers and those who provide information services on reasonable terms.

Computer Inquiry, the 1980s AT&T and GTE divestitures and the 1996 legislation all so required. But the FCC went rogue in the late 1990s. It allowed the dominant telephone and cable companies to close their local infrastructure, which allowed them to dominate mass-market internet access. The FCC purposefully killed most local market competition. Most independent internet service providers and competitive local exchange carriers were then forced out of business. Only a few major players still compete at the local level, and it is they who control mass-market “access to the internet” over “Broadband.”

Texas.net dueled early in the Lone Star state with Southwestern Bell

I started Texas.Net in 1994. We were one of the first independent ISPs in Texas. Southwestern Bell controlled the local network, and it soon started limiting our ability to get the lines we had to have so our customers could get to the internet. We turned to competitive local exchange carriers, and even became one ourselves.

SWBT and the other incumbent carriers convinced the FCC to limit competitors’ access to the last-mile connections serving homes and small businesses. The FCC refused to enforce its Time Warner Cable open access mandate. More than 7,000 independent ISPs were put out of business. That is why the telephone and cable companies now have a largely unregulated mass-market telecommunications and internet access duopoly.

“Net neutrality” was and is necessary only because of the FCC’s decision to close access to local infrastructure. America will continue to suffer high cost, rationed broadband telecommunications and internet for residential, small business, rural and high-cost customers for so long as the FCC allows and encourages the telephone and cable companies’ domination over local network access. The FCC must return to its “open access” roots.

Sohn is practical and willing to compromise in seeking bipartisan solutions

I have known Gigi Sohn since she led Public Knowledge. She understands that net neutrality is just a patch and the real solution is true open access to the underlying local telecommunications infrastructure. I certainly don’t agree with 100% of Sohn’s viewpoints, and we’ve told her so. But even when we disagree our voices are heard, understood and considered. She is practical and willing to compromise. She will seek bipartisan solutions to the real problem.

The Republicans’ effort to derail Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC is misguided. All it does is cripple the FCC’s ability to return to its roots and do what is truly necessary to get America up to speed with the rest of the developed world when it comes to advanced infrastructure in general and internet ubiquity in particular. This is too important a moment for partisan gamesmanship. Billions of dollars and the connectivity of millions of Americans are at stake.

Sohn is the right person at the right moment in history. Her 30 years of experience in telecom, broadband and technology policy, her strong commitment to the First Amendment and diversity of viewpoints, and her work to promote a competitive environment where consumers are best served more than qualify her to be an FCC Commissioner.

Ron Yokubaitis is CEO of Golden Frog, a company dedicated to protecting internet privacy online, and a director of sister company Giganews, a global provider of Usenet. Both are headquartered in Austin, Texas. This Expert Opinion is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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