Digital Divide

The Divide: Where and why local voices are missing from FCC broadband policymaking

On this episode, we hear from Ryan Johnston, senior policy counsel for federal programs at Next Century Cities, an advocacy group that supports local officials and community leaders in their efforts to expand broadband.

Ryan recently authored a report entitled Resounding Silence: The Need For Local Insights In Federal Policymaking. The report takes a look at two FCC dockets – the 2018 small cell proceeding and the 2022 docket on Internet service providers (ISPs) in multi-tenant environments (MTEs) – to explore the FCC's general rulemaking process and its impact on local communities.

We discuss the difficulty municipalities had participating in both of those proceedings and what happened as a result. We also discuss how to improve the process, and why local governments should get a jumpstart on data collection as states prepare to distribute more federal funds.

Here are some topics discussed in this episode:

  • Background on the FCC's "small cell" proceeding and its importance (02:05)
  • Background on the FCC's MTE proceeding and its importance (04:38)
  • Why municipal voices were lacking in these proceedings and outcomes (06:48)
  • Recommendations for reforming the FCC rulemaking process (10:10)
  • Comparing other agencies' rulemaking processes to the FCC's (15:35)
  • Why municipalities need to be in "data collection mode" (18:48)

Related stories and links:

Nicole Ferraro, editor, Light Reading, and host of "​​The Divide" podcast.

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