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

Harold Feld hfeld at publicknowledge.org
Thu Nov 19 08:12:39 PST 2020

Universal service in its modern inception goes back to the early days of
the AT&T monopoly. AT&T justified its monopoly on the basis of the idea
that it was necessary for them to have a monopoly to serve the entire
country. "One policy, one system, universal service
was the slogan used to sell this idea.

The way this got enforced, ultimately, was by requiring franchising on a
geographic basis and demanding deployment throughout the service territory.
unlike cable systems franchised at the local level, telephone networks were
franchised by the state (and required to get a license for interstate
services under Section 214 of the Act). Traditionally, overbuilders were
not subject to these universal franchising requirements. Incumbent LECs
were designated as "carriers of last resort" (COLR), and could not
terminate service without showing that other carriers exist to service the
service area.

I will skip over the history of franchising and how this stuff used to
work. It was indeed a long, ugly and expensive process we would not want to
replicate. Without franchising, it is less clear how you enforce a
universal service mandate. The most obvious way is to make the government
-- local, state or federal -- the carrier of last resort and to require
cost-based interconnection to keep the price of backhaul reasonable. We
(PK) proposed this back in 2011 or so when LECs were looking to deregulate
themselves as part of the Tech Transition. Needless to say, this did not
get far.

Harold Feld, Senior VP
(202) 559-1044 | @haroldfeld
Public Knowledge | @publicknowledge | www.publicknowledge.org
1818 N St. NW, Suite 410 | Washington, DC 20036

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On Tue, Nov 17, 2020 at 6:51 PM Dane Jasper <dane.jasper at sonic.com> 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> 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/
>> 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> 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
>>> --
>>> 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
>>> 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 Worldhttps://www.eff.org/donate
>> _______________________________________________
>> CalFiber mailing list
>> CalFiber at lists.eff.org
>> https://lists.eff.org/mailman/listinfo/calfiber
> --
> Dane Jasper
> 707-237-6205
> dane.jasper at sonic.com
> _______________________________________________
> CalFiber mailing list
> CalFiber at lists.eff.org
> https://lists.eff.org/mailman/listinfo/calfiber
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