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Cable TV Hall blasted Biden’s broadband plan, saying everything is fine

The cable lobbyist Michael Powell (Michael Powell) speaks before the podium.
enlarge / The cable lobbyist Michael Powell (Michael Powell) spoke at a conference in September 2015.

Getty Images | Larry Busacca

It is foreseeable that President Biden̵

7;s plan to expand broadband access and lower prices is facing strong opposition from cable companies that want to maintain the status quo.

The Internet and Television Association (NCTA), which represents Comcast, Charter, Cox and other cable companies, argued that Biden’s plan was a “seriously wrong turn.” The NCTA is particularly angry that Biden hopes to expand municipal broadband networks to fill the gaps in high-speed broadband and lower prices that usually do not serve local ISPs. It can provide a competitive advantage by competing with cable companies that are usually in its area.

The CEO of NCTA said: “The White House has chosen to expand and strengthen its broadband infrastructure, but if it abandons the government’s decades of successful policies, it may face serious mistakes, because the White House hints that the government is more skilled than the private sector’s technical staff. Suitable for the construction and operation of the Internet.” Michael Powell (Michael Powell) wrote in a statement.

Before becoming a lobbyist, Powell was the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President George W. Bush. Powell voted in 2002 when he took up this position and blocked the supervision of the co-operator of the wired Internet. His FCC claimed that the decision would “bring better quality, lower prices, and more consumption.” Choice”.

Yesterday, Powell claimed that the broadband situation in the United States is very good. Powell wrote: “Biden mistakenly merged our successful modern digital network with declining roads, bridges, waterways, and power grids.” “Although we have repeatedly seen examples of traditional infrastructure failures in recent years, the US broadband Has become a reliable main force, because during the pandemic, millions of Americans worked at home, studied and kept in touch. In short, the high standards of our broadband network ensure the safety of millions of Americans and will Continue to innovate work, healthcare, education, etc.”

USTelecom, which represents AT&T, Verizon and other DSL and fiber providers, also claimed that things are going well and that Biden should stick to a private ISP-centric strategy.

USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said: “Today’s broadband market also has a competitive advantage, which is defined as speed increase, price reduction, new entrants and next-generation technology.” “Congress should now prioritize fast, sensible affordability and Access to solutions and encourage continued private investment to get the job done.”

Biden: “Americans pay too much for Internet services”

Biden’s plan is to invest US$100 billion in broadband. According to the White House’s description, “Prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated or associated with local governments, non-profit organizations and cooperatives-providers will have less pressure to make profits. And is committed to serving the entire community.”

Biden’s plan talks about “removing obstacles and preventing municipal-owned or affiliated providers and rural power cooperatives from competing with private providers in a level playing field.” This may have overturned nearly 20 state laws restricting the development of municipal networks.

Biden further proposed “requiring Internet service providers to clearly disclose the charging standards.” This idea was opposed by cable companies because they wanted to put out low-cost advertisements and then charge customers a larger monthly fee through hidden fees. . Biden also hopes to take other actions to lower prices, although it is not yet clear. The plan says, “The President is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce Internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayers money.”

The Biden plan also said: “Americans pay too much for the Internet, much higher than people in many other countries.” In addition, “more than 30 million Americans live in areas without broadband infrastructure with the lowest speed acceptable.” Part of the reason is that the United States has some of the highest broadband prices among the OECD countries, so millions of Americans cannot use broadband Internet even if the infrastructure is located where they live.” The Biden Plan says these access and affordability The problem is most serious in rural and tribal areas and ethnic minorities.

Biden said in his speech yesterday: “When I say’affordable’, I am serious.” “Americans pay too much for Internet services. We will lower the prices of families that now have services. And make it easier for families who don’t have affordable services to get it now.”

The cable TV lobby opposes plans to lower prices

Powell was angry at Biden’s suggestion that the government should try to reduce broadband prices.

Powell wrote: “The government plays a key role in connecting the Internet to underserved areas and helping low-income families afford it.” “However, these targeted, common goals cannot be implied by mistake. The entire network is in a dilemma to solve. The solution is either to give priority to government-owned networks or to micro-manage private networks, including the unfounded claim that the government should manage prices.” (Biden did not say that the government should manage prices. The plan he said “find a solution to lower Internet prices for all Americans” is too vague to know what this will consist of, and requiring ISPs to clearly disclose prices will not necessarily lower these prices.)

Powell also pointed out that “the rapid innovation in Internet technology and services by Americans in the past two decades is the direct result of large-scale and sustained private investment in the Internet.” Although Powell touted “private investment”, he It is not mentioned that the FCC has provided billions of dollars to private ISPs since 2015 to establish networks in underserved areas, and recently allocated another 9.2 billion US dollars out of the planned 20.4 billion US dollars.

Despite this, millions of Americans still do not have access to fast and/or affordable broadband. The cable industry and Republicans have been struggling with plans to solve municipal network problems. Republicans in Congress last month proposed a nationwide ban on municipal broadband.

Small ISPs welcome the Biden plan more

The organization representing small rural broadband providers has issued a more positive statement about the Biden plan. NTCA (Rural Broadband) CEO Shirley Bloomfield (Shirley Bloomfield) said: “Without digital infrastructure, no infrastructure is complete. On behalf of NTCA members, I would like to thank President Biden for recognizing broadband. The importance of access in his new “American Employment Program.” Association.

Bloomfield said: “We need to be far-sighted and invest in efficient and scalable technologies such as fiber optics, not only to meet the needs of today’s consumers, but also to meet the needs of tomorrow.” In contrast, although AT&T admits Optical fiber is the most “future-oriented” broadband technology, but it is still lobbying against government-funded optical fiber networks in rural areas.

Another lobby group representing small ISPs, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), issued a similarly positive statement.

The organization stated: “Although the digital divide is narrowing, more work must be done to make the Internet available to all Americans. The president’s focus is precisely the goal.” The lobby group continues to say that the subsidy program should “take advantage of what is already in the market. Providers”, this position will benefit existing ISPs rather than new municipal, non-profit and cooperative providers.

Congressional Democrats are striving to establish a symmetrical 100Mbps broadband standard that will give priority to the construction of optical fiber networks, and WISPA naturally hopes to provide funds for wireless ISPs. The organization stated that the subsidy program should “really not affect technology,” it should provide more spectrum for “small innovators,” and small ISPs should “use physical infrastructure without discrimination.”

Consumer advocates have been full of praise for Biden’s plan. Consumer advocate Gigi Sohn (Gigi Sohn) said: “President Biden’s historic plan puts a lot of bets on the much-needed broadband.” Gigi Sohn served in the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission. The past chairman Tom Wheeler (Tom Wheeler) adviser. “Refusing to repeat the mistakes of the past that caused tens of millions of people to lose contact in the United States, the president’s plan prioritizes “future-oriented networks”, promotes competition by lifting national barriers to all networks in the community, requires price transparency, and guarantees that broadband is resolved. The high price of Internet access solves the affordability problem.”

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