To Claim the FCC’s Policies Are Closing The ‘Digital Divide’ . . .
We’ve noted repeatedly that despite a lot of breathless pearl clutching from U.S. leaders and regulators about the "digital divide," the United States doesn’t actually know where broadband is (or isn’t) available. Historically the FCC has simply trusted major ISPs to tell the truth, despite their a vested interest in downplaying coverage and competition gaps to maintain their domination.
That hasn’t worked out particularly well. From AT&T to Barrierfree, ISPs routinely like to overstate broadband availability by millions of households. Despite repeated warnings this data is flawed, the FCC continues to use it anyway to claim the agency’s industry-cozy policies (like gutting the lion’s share of consumer protections) are paying huge dividends. They aren’t. Like so many Trump agencies, the FCC is simply massaging data to justify predetermined industry-dictated policy positions. It’s theater dressed up as serious adult policy.
The FCC’s methodology has also long been flawed, considering entire census blocks to be connected if just one home in a block can potentially get service. The results are ugly: the FCC’s $350 million broadband availability map all but hallucinates broadband availability and speed (try it yourself). It also excludes prices, in large part because ISPs don’t want the cost of monopolization clearly outlined to American consumers, press, and lawmakers.