[CalFiber] Letter to Biden FCC Transition team on abolishing digital redlining - deadline COB Nov 23rd

Ernesto Falcon ernesto at eff.org
Tue Nov 17 16:22:28 PST 2020

I think it would be straightforward to differentiate between CLECs and 
ILECs here simply on the premise that ILECs already have the connections 
throughout the community built from their legacy deployment and are 
undergoing a transition with pre-existing rights of way whereas CLECs 
are entering and expanding as fiber on the front end. If the day came 
and Sonic covered all of SF, then future upgrades would have to be equal 
throughout the network just like it would be for the ILEC, but we're not 
there yet. Worth flagging that California state law already has a 
prohibition on discrimination based on socio-economic status now for 
broadband, which is why the CPUC is asking its questions on redlining.

The federal law prohibits unreasonable discrimination, not 
*/reasonable/* discrimination. That is why you have net neutrality but 
also reasonable network management exceptions. So you couldn't do this 
kind of mandate for rural areas because the private entity has a fairly 
straightforward argument as to why they can't upgrade without some sort 
of government support. I also think real barriers in local areas you 
listed out would be legitimate arguments as well to read in favor of the 
provider, but I think that applies to new entrants, not established 
incumbents. I do not think the ILECs have a reasonable discrimination 
argument for not upgrading their entire copper footprint to fiber in 
densely populated cities given that they already have the rights of way 
that overcome the barriers you listed. On top of that, AT&T heading 
towards cutting off the copper line in its entirety without replacing it 
with fiber has to be confronted with regulation given that the copper 
retirement offering clearly didn't work.

To your question about cable, no this wouldn't compel them to deploy 
fiber to the home. But an upgrade to the cable network would have to be 
done on a non-discriminatory basis throughout the footprint within a 
reasonable period of time under an anti-redlining provision. And that is 
the issue here, redlining. They have pre-existing connections to these 
communities that they are intentionally neglecting with the transition 
while high-income users in those same cities are getting fiber, and that 
just should not be allowed to continue/will take a lot of regulatory 
work to confront and stop.

On 11/17/2020 3:51 PM, Dane Jasper wrote:
> Certainly understand the goals of full deployment, and our own 
> analysis of the 477 info supports the fact that more fiber is deployed 
> in areas with higher incomes.
> Universal service was a concept when cable companies were granted 
> monopoly franchises for television services. They'd generally be 
> required to provide service throughout a city, with some carve-outs 
> for things like long private property driveways that they were allowed 
> to charge more for - but they couldn't skip sections of town and 
> basically had to go down every road. But of course, that was before 
> the internet disrupted cable television, and a monopoly franchise 
> meant something.
> But I don't understand how you could compel a carrier today, even an 
> incumbent, to deploy or upgrade their infrastructure universally. And 
> would you compel both the cable company and the incumbent telephone 
> carrier both to deploy fiber to every home premise? What about CLEC 
> overbuilders like Sonic? We build where we can, but without 
> pre-existing conduit in place, and with overloaded poles and varying 
> city limitations on underground construction, we end up with gaps in 
> our coverage.
> -Dane
> On Tue, Nov 17, 2020 at 2:39 PM Ernesto Falcon <ernesto at eff.org 
> <mailto:ernesto at eff.org>> wrote:
>     This is just one of many pieces. I agree this approach in
>     isolation alone would not be enough but I would emphasize that
>     this is what common carriage already requires in law today under
>     Title II. The FCC has a job to enforce.
>     This is also limited to what the FCC can do with its authority
>     without a new law. For example, the FCC can't free up the local
>     govs from the state restraints under Title II, which is why the
>     Clyburn bill has those provisions unless those states change their
>     laws. It can free up federally funded fiber under E-Rate early
>     next year that will help with public infrastructure, but that's a
>     small lift politically for the Biden FCC. And most of the money
>     the FCC has available is obligated now under RDOF for years on
>     out, so absent a new infusion of funds, there isn't more money
>     coming from the FCC without Congress.
>     This is also specifically focused on densely populated cities and
>     not a rural solution and focused on what can be done by regulation
>     without money. Also nothing will be done that won't face
>     litigation challenge by the ISPs, but if you start on year 1 you
>     can get to resolution by year 2 to begin to enforce.
>     On 11/17/20 2:18 PM, Christopher Mitchell wrote:
>>     I respect the people who may support this, but not only would I
>>     not sign this letter, I actively oppose it. I do not think it is
>>     in anyone's interest to force AT&T to invest more in low-income
>>     communities. AT&T will never do a good job of meeting those needs
>>     and I think work focused on how to pass laws that would force
>>     AT&T et al to do that would be wasted. We need to focus on better
>>     approaches to ensuring everyone can access the Internet, as I
>>     outlined here:
>>     https://nonprofitquarterly.org/a-signal-failure-education-broadband-and-our-childrens-future/
>>     <https://nonprofitquarterly.org/a-signal-failure-education-broadband-and-our-childrens-future/>
>>     If you use the force of law to compel AT&T to invest in these
>>     areas, you will make it less likely and more difficult for ISPs
>>     and business models that will do a much better job of meeting
>>     those needs in the short and long term. I do not think there is a
>>     short term argument in favor of forcing AT&T to invest in certain
>>     areas as it will be years of court battles that would have to be
>>     won prior to AT&T changing any investment plans.
>>     In disagreement, but solidarity,
>>     Christopher Mitchell
>>     Director, Community Broadband Networks
>>     Institute for Local Self-Reliance
>>     MuniNetworks.org <http://www.muninetworks.org/>
>>     @communitynets
>>     612-545-5185
>>     On Tue, Nov 17, 2020 at 2:25 PM Ernesto Falcon <ernesto at eff.org
>>     <mailto:ernesto at eff.org>> wrote:
>>         Hey folks,
>>         The time to weigh in with the incoming Biden Administration
>>         on goals for the first year is _/*now*/_./**/Decisions about
>>         staffing federal agencies and setting their priorities are
>>         happening as we speak so that come January they can hit the
>>         ground running. Not a lot has been submitted to the
>>         transition team about what the FCC should do so I worked with
>>         some folks to come up with this letter that I present to you
>>         for your consideration.
>>         The letter asks that the new Biden Administration appoint FCC
>>         Chair/Commissioners that will lead the agency to abolish
>>         digital redlining that is happening in our cities in year 1
>>         and mandate the incumbents like AT&T to deploy fiber to the
>>         low-income people they have left behind with the goal of full
>>         deployment by the end of the first term. This would be done
>>         after reclassification of broadband as a Title II service by
>>         relying on the anti-discrimination authority the FCC has
>>         under Title II to address socio-economic discrimination in
>>         areas that are economic to fully serve.
>>         It is just a fact that the large ISPs have refused to do so
>>         because they do not want to serve low income people for lower
>>         profits. Full deployment of fiber in densely populated cities
>>         is 100% profitable for the major ISPs like AT&T, but because
>>         we don't have an affirmative anti-redlining regulation on
>>         fiber, they are collecting profits that stem from
>>         discrimination with a disproportionate impact on people of
>>         color. This will carry serious ramifications going forward as
>>         those older slower networks will become more expensive to
>>         maintain, more expensive to subsidize access, and receive
>>         less and less investment by the incumbents who are
>>         purposefully letting them fall apart.
>>         The new FCC can and should stop that from continuing forward
>>         after it reclassifies broadband as a Title II service.
>>         **If you wish to sign on to the attached letter*, please
>>         click the link below. Deadline to sign on is November COB
>>         23rd (Monday).*
>>         https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd3zD7OT-oCpk8m0azJlbkIYxouSJTZZPFZIa32KfwvWhLEqA/viewform?usp=sf_link
>>         <https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd3zD7OT-oCpk8m0azJlbkIYxouSJTZZPFZIa32KfwvWhLEqA/viewform?usp=sf_link>
>>         -- 
>>         Ernesto Omar Falcon
>>         Senior Legislative Counsel
>>         Electronic Frontier Foundation
>>         Office: 415 436 9333 ext. 182
>>         Cell: 202 716 0770
>>         _______________________________________________
>>         CalFiber mailing list
>>         CalFiber at lists.eff.org <mailto:CalFiber at lists.eff.org>
>>         https://lists.eff.org/mailman/listinfo/calfiber
>>         <https://lists.eff.org/mailman/listinfo/calfiber>
>     -- 
>     Ernesto Omar Falcon
>     Senior Legislative Counsel
>     Electronic Frontier Foundation
>     Office: 415 436 9333 ext. 182
>     Cell: 202 716 0770
>     Help EFF Defend Freedom in the Digital World
>     https://www.eff.org/donate  <https://www.eff.org/donate>
>     _______________________________________________
>     CalFiber mailing list
>     CalFiber at lists.eff.org <mailto:CalFiber at lists.eff.org>
>     https://lists.eff.org/mailman/listinfo/calfiber
>     <https://lists.eff.org/mailman/listinfo/calfiber>
> -- 
> Dane Jasper
> 707-237-6205
> dane.jasper at sonic.com <mailto:dane.jasper at sonic.com>

Ernesto Omar Falcon
Senior Legislative Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Office: 415 436 9333 ext. 182
Cell: 202 716 0770

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