ACA Worries FCC Will Subsidize Cable Competitors

In the U.S., broadband is defined as Internet service with a minimum speed of 4Mbit/s downstream and 1Mbit/s upstream. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) thinks that definition may create too much wriggle room when it comes to broadband subsidies. And that worries the American Cable Association (ACA). In response to a request for comment by the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau, the ACA has submitted its concerns about the requirements for broadband subsidies delivered as part of the new Connect America Fund (CAF). The FCC is proposing a revised "proxy" threshold of 6Mbit/s downstream and 1.5Mbit/s upstream to determine which geographic regions can be classified as unserved, and therefore given CAF funds. The ACA, however, wants to keep the proxy requirement at 3Mbit/s downstream and 768kbit/s upstream, arguing that cable's Docsis technology means services with speeds advertised at the lower rate are likely to deliver actual speeds of 4 Mbit/s downstream and 1Mbit/s upstream. "The FCC should protect the public by ensuring that broadband deployment subsidies do not result in significant government-supported overbuilding, which would cause real harm to cable operators that have invested only private capital," ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. (See also ACA Balks at Telco-Led Broadband Proposals and ACA Asks FCC to Keep Broadband Subsidies in Check) — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable
joanengebretson 4/2/2013 | 9:12:58 PM
re: ACA Worries FCC Will Subsidize Cable Competitors A couple of years or so ago the FCC used to argue that if service providers advertised service "up to" a certain speed, they probably delivered less than that. But they backed off on that line of reasoning after their own tests showed quite a lot of service providers delivering faster speeds than they advertised. So the ACA might find a receptive audience at the commission on this 4 meg vs. 3 meg issue.
msilbey 4/2/2013 | 3:09:58 PM
re: ACA Worries FCC Will Subsidize Cable Competitors Speakers at a recent FCC Gigabit workshop were none too happy with incumbent providers trying to prevent further broadband build-outs. Telecom lawyer Jim Baller described as "immoral and absurd" a recent-áGeorgia bill that would have made it illegal for a municipality to wire its own broadband if even one person in the area had 3 Mbps service. (The bill was shot down.)-á

While the ACA here is attacking proposed subsidies, and not the right of a municipality to create its own broadband service, the issue of whether advertised speeds of 3 Mbps should count as broadband is a-ácontroversial one. It's also a distressing counterpoint to the drive for gigabit cities in other areas of the U.S.
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