FCC Chairman Pai Circulates Draft 2018 Broadband Deployment Report

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Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 tasks the FCC with encouraging the deployment of broadband on a reasonable and timely basis and issuing an annual report on its progress. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated to his fellow Commissioners a draft report.  Among the highlights of the 2018 report are the following:  (1) the 25 Mbps downlink and 3 Mbps uplink benchmark for connected data services qualifying as “broadband” remains intact; (2) mobile broadband services are not considered “full substitutes” for fixed broadband services; (3) deployment progress for fixed and mobile broadband services should be analyzed separately; and (4) since the last progress report, the FCC has taken many steps to encourage broadband deployment, most notably by reducing the regulatory burdens, forming a Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, reforming the legacy high-cost universal service program, authorizing new uses of wireless spectrum both terrestrially and in space, and voting to eliminate heavy-handed regulations contained in the Title II Order, returning to a light-touch regulatory framework. The 2018 report concludes that the FCC is now meeting its statutory mandate to encourage the deployment of broadband on a reasonable and timely basis, and that broadband deployment remains a top FCC priority.

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