Today, Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, announced the formation of a broadband deployment advisory committee. The committee will advise the Commission on public policy that encourages additional broadband deployment. One of those roadblocks to deployment identified in Chairman Pai’s is the regulatory roadblock that local governments put in the way of broadband providers. I think Chairman Pai’s analysis is spot on and I base my conclusion on my work experience in local government.
If an upstart broadband provider wants to enter a market and provide alternative video and broadband services in a market where there is a dominant video provider, franchise application fees may impose an exorbitant burden on the new entrant and discourage further efforts to enter the market. Even if the new entrant has the financial wherewithal, the local government may require the new entrant to provide connectivity between all of the local government’s agency offices or porvide a number of video channels for government or public use, channels that otherwise could be used to earn revenue.
Along with pole attachments and rights-of-way management, I hope Chairman Pai’s committee addresses the bottlenecks that local government erect and that new entrants find hard to navigate.