Last year, the FCC, under Trump-appointed chairman Ajit Pai, launched an advisory committee on high-speed internet access, saying it planned to bring broadband to more people. But according to San Jose’s mayor, who quit the committee in protest today, the telecommunications industry has taken hold of the initiative, advancing its own interests at the expense of consumers.
“It has become abundantly clear that despite the good intentions of several participants, the industry-heavy makeup of BDAC [Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee] will simply relegate the body to being a vehicle for advancing the interests of the telecommunications industry over those of the public,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in his announcement, which was reported on earlier today by Axios.
The broadband committee, meant to be a partnership between a group of stakeholders, has been criticized before for an apparent bias toward the telecom industry. In August, the Center for Public Integrity explained how local governments believed they were being played, as the FCC reportedly stacked more than three out of four positions on the panel with business-friendly interests.
Liccardo says in his letter that he hoped the committee could develop “balanced, common-sense recommendations,” but that he’s since become disillusioned. At a recent meeting, he said, a working group with no municipal representatives considered a plan to eliminate municipal control of broadband infrastructure. The goal, he now believes, is to give the industry “publicly-funded infrastructure at taxpayer-subsidized rates.”
“As a result, I am compelled to submit my resignation to the FCC Broadband Deployment Advisory Board, effective immediately,” he writes.