COMMISSIONER MICHAEL O’RIELLY
APPROVING IN PART AND CONCURRING IN PART
Re: Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All
Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion, and Possible Steps to Accelerate Such
Deployment Pursuant to Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as Amended by the
Broadband Data Improvement Act, GN Docket No. 14-126.
I approve the initiation of this inquiry, which is required by section 706(b) of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. While I appreciate the opportunity to vote on an item that ostensibly
complies with the statute, I am troubled that the Commission failed to meet its statutory obligation to
complete the 2012 inquiry within 180 days after its initiation. The Commission simply has no authority
or excuse for skipping deadlines imposed by Congress. Hopefully, we have put that disturbing practice
behind us for purposes of this inquiry requirement going forward.
I am also concerned that, with each inquiry, the Commission invents new analyses, contorting
itself in an effort to justify a finding that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable
and timely fashion so that it can regulate broadband service. If you believe (and I have made clear that I
do not believe that section 706 provides any authority whatsoever) that the Commission has independent
regulatory authority under section 706(a), then there is no need for these analytical acrobatics in
conducting the report under section 706(b). We should perform an honest and straightforward assessment
of “whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable
and timely fashion,” which does not mean whether “each person in every household across America can
simultaneously stream video while using Skype during peak hours on weeknights.” After all, the term
“reasonable” has to carry at least some weight since it is actually in the statute. In the end, many of the
questions posed appear designed to achieve an already predetermined outcome that is both unnecessary
I am also troubled by the expansion of this inquiry into areas that are outside the expertise of the
agency and may conflict with responsibilities of other federal agencies, as provided by Congress. In
particular, the Commission’s newfound interest in privacy and security by broadband providers are issues
already subject oversight and enforcement by other federal agencies, including the Federal Trade
Commission. I am concerned that this line of inquiry ultimately could result in the FCC creating
duplicative and potentially conflicting burdens on broadband providers, leading to cost increases for
consumers. Hopefully, we will get a robust record of submissions in this proceeding highlighting the full
range of requirements that broadband providers are already subject to and how those existing structures
Therefore, I must concur on the inquiry itself.
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