Broadband Deployment Resolution Exposed

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The Broadband Deployment Resolution was a draft model bill considered by ALEC's Communications and Information Technology Task Force at the States and Nation Policy Summit in December, 2016. (Accessed October 27, 2016).

ALEC Bill Text

WHEREAS, it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty; and

WHEREAS, ubiquitous access to fast and affordable broadband Internet access services is vital for both economic growth and civic engagement; and

WHEREAS, America’s “Hands off the Net” approach to regulating broadband unleashed over $1.4 trillion dollars of private investment in broadband infrastructure between 1996 and 2015, supporting nearly 11 million jobs and an entirely new apps economy; and

WHEREAS, government at all levels can adopt public policies that remove barriers to investment in broadband infrastructure, thus accelerating deployment of wholly new networks as well as upgrades to existing networks; and

WHEREAS, debate about broadband policy too often falls into a false binary between the status quo and government-owned networks; and

WHEREAS, there is much governments can do to promote broadband deployment without having to invest limited public funds or credit, such as cutting red tape, lowering fees and removing other barriers to private investment; and

WHEREAS, when the private market is unable or unwilling to meet local citizens’ demand for broadband even after deployment is made easier and cheaper, government can leverage private investment in broadband infrastructure through public-private partnerships; and

WHEREAS, public-private partnerships involve less investment of public funds or credit and less risk than government-owned networks, and have a lesser chance of causing competitive harm to the broadband market; and

WHEREAS, government-owned networks are properly viewed as a last resort, suitable only in those places where the private sector is unable or unwilling to meet local demand for broadband, and only for so long as that demand continues to go unmet; and

WHEREAS, assessing the adequacy of current or planned broadband deployment or of proposals for public-private partnerships requires realistic projections of consumers’ broadband demand as well as expected purely private provision of broadband in the near-term; and

WHEREAS, the FCC’s current definition of broadband as 25 Mbps service significantly overstates present (and reasonably foreseeable) broadband usage, and thus unfairly skews assessment of current deployment; and

WHEREAS, the FCC’s obsession with 1,000 Mbps (“gigabit”) service has distracted attention from significant upgrades to broadband networks and helped to feed a push for government-owned gigabit networks;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that ALEC voices its support for lawmakers and regulators who adopt broadband policies that favor market-based solutions; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that governments at all levels should streamline processing of applications for permission to deploy broadband infrastructure, which requires promptly explaining why an application is not adequate once filed; adequately explaining any denial of an application so that it may be revised and resubmitted; and ensuring adequate staffing to handle new applications; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that deployment of 5G wireless networks or new Fiber-to-the-Home networks will require batch processing of applications for permission from state and local governments; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that fees charged for permission to deploy broadband infrastructure, and for for using public infrastructure in deployment, should be reasonable and nondiscriminatory; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that extending current pole attachment rules to poles owned by governments, electrical cooperatives and railroads would ensure that broadband providers may gain access to public rights of way at just and reasonable rates; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that ALEC urges lawmakers to utilize public-private partnerships and government-owned networks only to the extent that citizens’ demand for broadband is not met by the private market; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that, in assessing whether citizens’ broadband demand is being effectively met by the private market, lawmakers may consider, in addition to service characteristics and availability, pricing and the extent of competition, but should bear the burden of defining a market failure through rigorous economic analysis of robust data, and not rely solely on concentration metrics to assert a lack of competition; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that any proposed public-private partnership should be put out for competitive bid without preference for any favored company; focus any investment of public funds or credit in highly durable, “dumb” network elements, such as utility poles and conduits; and provide leases for all broadband providers to use public infrastructure on an open-access basis available on competitive terms; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that government should exhaust all available options, including cutting red tape and utilizing public-private partnerships that focus on conduits and other “dumb” network elements” before resorting to building government-owned networks; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that ALEC supports the proposal made by Commissioner Ajit Pai to have the FCC create an advisory committee to draw on expertise from state and local lawmakers as well as industry stakeholders and develop best practices for how to simplify deployment, especially of small cells, which would be recommended to states and local governments as model best practices, but not mandated; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that ALEC calls on the FCC to respect limits places on its authority by Congress, as recognized by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Tennessee v. FCC, and cease trying to interfere with how states govern their municipal subdivisions; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that ALEC supports Commissioner Ajit Pai’s proposal to create Gigabit Opportunity Zones in low-income communities that meet minimum standards for streamlining broadband deployment but that currently lack high-speed broadband, so that federal incentives can encourage the deployment of high-speed networks, thus promoting economic opportunity for the nation’s most disadvantaged, particularly in urban areas; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that ALEC supports, as particularly important for promoting deployment in rural areas, Congressional legislation requiring consideration as to whether deployment of broadband conduits as part of federally-funded highway projects would help stimulate deployment; and

BE IT RESOLVED, that ALEC calls on the FCC to reconsider its arbitrary methodology for measuring the adequacy of broadband speeds and instead develop a methodology that is grounded in data about actual usage patterns, and that also measures the digital divide between urban and rural communities.