FCC Hires Industry Shill to Develop US National Broadband Plan

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 16:28

The FCC's broadband task force is tasked with developing our national broadband policy. This is a project that FCC Commissioner Michael Copps ranks of the highest importance:

"I'm enthused as I can be that this country is finally, finally going to develop a national broadband plan," Copps said Wednesday in an interview for C-SPAN's "The Communicators" series.(...)

"We're way behind in broadband," he said. "There is a need to do something now."

Copps said he is not underestimating the importance of the FCC's task: "It's the biggest thing that's come to the FCC since I've been there," he said.

And so, because our government is run by corporations and for corporations even when it is controlled by Democrats, a telecom industry shill, Scott Wallsten, was named as economics director of that task force.  From a source close to the process, in the extended entry I proivde a thorough background on Wallstein's industry connections and long history of fighting against American consumers:

Chris Bowers :: FCC Hires Industry Shill to Develop US National Broadband Plan
Wallsten is a guy who:

  1. Has spent the last five years at three different coin-operated think tanks.

    • Most recently with the Technology Policy Institute whose supporters include AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, Time Warner Cable, Verizon

    • He previously worked for the Progress and Freedom Foundation whose primary funders include AT&T, Comcast, Cox, NCTA, Time Warner Cable, Verizon. (Source)

    • Before that he worked for the American Enterprise Institute/Brookings Institution whose funders include AT&T, SBC, Verizon. ((Source)

  2. Doesn't believe there is a broadband problem in America . Point 1 would explain this belief, Here's some of the industry and GOP-friendly positions he's taken

    • "... the U.S. does not have a broadband problem. The remarkable investment in broadband infrastructure and rapid increases in subscribership that have taken place suggest the market is working well. Any policy or regulation intended to further accelerate deployment should clearly identify and target the market failure it is intended to mitigate:"

    • "The wireless industry exhibits no evidence of a market failure, and regulations - especially sweeping ones of the type [Tim] Wu would like us to consider - are likely to impose significant costs on society and ultimately harm consumers." (Source)

    • He frequently uses long discredited FCC data to state the broadband market is full of competition and advocates for the fingers-crossed approach to competition. (Source and source).

  3. Has published numerous editorials and papers that have rejected Net Neutrality and Open Access, in direct opposition to both President Obama's and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's positions on the issue. For ex:
    here and here.

  4. Has lectured across Washington frequently using a PowerPoint presentation that parrots every GOP and  industry talking point regarding the U.S. Int'l Rankings. (Source)

  5. Given his loyalty to the industry agenda, Wallsten is a frequent choice of GOP members of Congress when assembling witnesses to testify in committee. He is also routinely cited by industry in their comments to the FCC:

    • Comments of AT&T, 07-45 (706) (May 16, 2007)
    • Comments of Verizon&VZW, 07-45 (706) (May 16, 2007)
    • Comment of NCTA, 07-45 (706) (May 16, 2007)
    • Comments of Verizon&VZW, 07-52 (NN) (June 15, 2007)
    • Comments of AT&T, 07-52 (NN) (June 15, 2007)
    • Reply Comments of Verizon & VZW, 07-52 (NN) (July 16, 2007)
    • Opposition to Pet. for Recon. of NCTA, 07-45 (706) (Sept. 17, 2008)
    • Comments of Comcast, 09-51 (NBP) (June 8, 2009)
    • Comments of Verizon & VZW, 09-51 (NBP) (June 8, 2009)
    • Comments of AT&T, 09-51 (NBP) (June 8, 2009)
    • Comments of NCTA, 09-51 (NBP) (June 8, 2009)
    • Reply  Comments of AT&T, 09-51 (NBP)  (July 21, 2009)
    • Reply  Comments of Verizon & VZW, 09-51 (NBP)  (July 21, 2009)
    • Reply Comments of Comcast, 09-51 (NBP) (July 21, 2009)
    • Reply Comments of Time Warner Cable, 09-51 (NBP) (July 21, 2009)

  6. Has advocated for a return to metered billing in opposition to Rep. Eric Massa's recently introduced legislation Source)

  7. Has opposed the openness conditions on the 700 MHz spectrum. (Source)

In a way this is actually a relief. Given that our financial policy, climate change policy, and health care policy are all working to reward the same companies that were responsible for the crises we face in those areas, it would be a shame if our plan to catch up to the rest of the world on telecommunications wasn't also designed by lobbyists from the industry that helped us fall behind. Otherwise, stockholders might lose their constitutionally guaranteed rights to run the country.

Snark aside, WTF?! Too many Democrats keep letting foxes into the henhouse. How many of our policies have to be dominated by bad-faith industry negotiators before we realize that continuing to give industry a seat at the policy table will never allow us to break away from our corporate kleptocracy? There better be a huge policy pay-off for consumers coming from this, but I am not holding my breath.

The legislative happenings of 2009 have brought the need for publicly financed elections and severe lobbying restrictions much closer to the forefront of my political thinking.  I don't know how much support publicly financed elections might have in Congress, but there are good reasons to think that the situation will get worse before it gets better. The Supreme Court recently heard a case that could strike down the ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates.  As a party, we really need to start dumping bipartisanship and adopting a more populist attitude.

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There's worse (4.00 / 6)
A court ruled in favor of Comcast (reported in today's NY Times) to overturn the FCC's limit of 30% for national cable market share.  Congress has given the FCC the power to set rules three times and now courts have overturned that power three times.  Doesn't Congress specifically and comstitutionally have the power to regulate trade as given in the Constitution?  I guess these Republican corporate judges take that to mean that the power can't be delegated to the FCC.  That's bs.  Regulatory agencies are designed to regulate.

Comcast has a 26% market share nationally and is a monoploly or near monopoly in many markets.  Here in Jersey thay have been a leading creator of the myth of Chris Christie.  They overcharge.  A lot.  They need regulation desperately; not expansion.  I'm sure comcast has a bigger national share than any of the broadcast networks.  Duh.

Comcast is domiante in the Philly area ... (0.00 / 0)
and unless you have their cable .. you can't get the Sixers or Flyers(which is kind if a quirk .. but still)

[ Parent ]
They also have a shitty product (0.00 / 0)
They don't invest in their networks, until something like Verizon FIOS comes along and rings their bell.

Of course Verizon has customer service straight out of Soviet Russia.

The telcos in this country are vile.

[ Parent ]
bipartisanship is not the problem ,,. that's just a cover ... (0.00 / 0)
... for the dems to serve what the reps and blue dogs are proxies for:  corporatism ... that's the problem.  Too many democrats want to lay as much as they can on the reps when they need to take a much closer look at "their" own ... and the fact of the matter is they don't have a party that represents them.


I think this writer understands this, but went off ttrack on his last sentence (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
no excuses (4.00 / 1)
this is really disappointing. these kinds of lower-level, solely Executive Branch appointments is where i had been hoping to see improvements. this is purely a choice for them. no structural issues. no Republican votes to gather. no big media spotlight. just the day-to-day work.

i'm sure that there are rationales that we will hear, if anyone bothers to respond to criticism of the appointment. and they might be interesting, if only for what they inadvertantly reveal. but no ice will be cut.

i look forward to my mandatory cell phone and premium movie packages.

not everything worth doing is profitable. not everything profitable is worth doing.

it seems like (0.00 / 0)
your source should start leaking before final decisions are made, not after.  What is anyone supposed to do now?

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

"What is anyone supposed to do now?" (0.00 / 0)
Stop voting for Wall-Street-funded corporate shills -- Blue Dogs, DLCers, and their fellow travelers.

[ Parent ]

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