Fiber Broadband Association: Update from the Public Policy Committee
Gary Bolton (ADTRAN) Chair of Committee
I hope that everyone had an extremely productive Fiber Broadband Association Fiber Connect Conference over the past few days. It was great having the FCC Chairman’s Senior Counsel Nick Degani join us in Orlando as part of Tom Cohen’s panel. He provided a very insightful update on Chairman Pai’s progress to date and the Chairman’s focus and key proceedings that are teed up in the near term. Nick was also our guest speaker at our Premier Members meeting in December in Washington DC so it was great to see how well aligned Nick and the FCC Chairman are with the Fiber Broadband Association’s interest. Our Public Policy Committee has been off to a strong start in 2017 and we’ve already filed or have teed up to file on more proceedings in the first half of this year than we did all of last year. This is largely due to a very active government environment. The good news is that the Fiber Broadband Association is well positioned and has built an extremely strong record with the intellectual property that we’ve generated as an Association with our research, whitepapers and multi-stakeholder domain expertise. The following (below) is a quick update on policy framework and progress. We hold monthly policy calls and we welcome members to participate and contribute on our committee.
Public Policy Committee Mission
The Fiber Broadband Association Public Policy Committee seeks to advance the Association’s interest in accelerating the deployment of fiber to all Americans by selectively participating in government proceedings where the outcome will “move the needle” on all-fiber deployments and where we can get most efficiently use our resources.
Tactics and Strategy
For the most part, we participate in FCC proceedings, because it is the agency that is most active in developing and implementing communications policy. That is especially true this year, as Chairman Pai has aggressively moved to implement his “infrastructure” agenda, which seeks to lower barriers to investment and network deployment. At the same time, the Association regular meets with key US Congressional Committees and the Administration. For instance, already this year, we have met with the staff of the President’s National Economic Council on the Administration’s Infrastructure Plan, and we have been in contact with Congress on that issue as well. The Association also participates in state proceedings, for instance, to facilitate franchising of communications providers and to weigh-in against legislation that would prohibit municipal builds, and we participate in local proceedings, such as during consideration by the San Francisco City Council of its MDU access ordinance.
When we engage in public policy issues, the Association works to its strength – our expertise in knowing fiber network technology, network builds, and provider operations. We always endeavor to provide substantive comments, often based on studies from our Technology Committee or from those that the Association sponsors. Government agencies are hungry for facts and analysis, and we try to meet that need. Moreover, by providing in-depth and detailed information and documentation, the Association builds its reputation and brand. So, for example, in last year’s proceeding on whether to regulate business data (special access) services, we contracted with a business consulting firm to provide facts about the competitive nature of those markets. This year, we are working with the same firm on producing a study on how broadband prices have been declining. We also regularly use information and analysis from Michael Render either that he has developed for the Association in general or specifically for the proceeding.
Finally, the Association understands how policy and politics intersect. Our CEO, Heather Gold, and our counsel, Tom Cohen, have in aggregate played in policy and politics for over 75 years. In addition, we have members on our committee that have experience engaging in policy debates. That said, we have never played deeply in politics because of the strain it would put on our resources and the low return we would expect to get. The Association sticks to its knitting of being mainly a “fact-based” participant in policy debates, and by our track record, it has paid off.
Of course, that does not mean we could not do more. The Board has encouraged us to raise our visibility in Washington, and we already have begun developing plans to that end. And, we need you to be involved. By getting more members, especially service provider members involved, we can increase our effect on policy outcomes. This is particularly important as we try to outline why we need certain policy prescriptions – the public policy makers need to hear the “stories” of how certain regulations or actions by others are thwarting deployment. Only you, involved in the actual deployment process, can give us those facts.
Below is a list of our past, recent, and future policy efforts. Please get with me if you have questions or want to provide assistance or input.
FIBER BROADBAND ASSOCIATION
2017 PUBLIC POLICY FILINGS AND OTHER SUBMISSIONS/ACTIVITIES
- Petition on San Francisco MDU Ordinance – Comments in opposition filed May 18, Replies filed June 9
- Infrastructure: Meeting with National Economic Council on Infrastructure – March 23; Monitoring Congressional Activities and Submission to Senate Commerce Committee
- Mobilitie/Broadband Infrastructure – Comments in support filed March 8; Replies filed April 7
- Maryland House Economic Matters Committee on Legislation to Limit Fiber Deployment –Testimony in opposition filed on March 8
- Municipal Legislation – Signed on to letters in opposition in Virginia and Missouri
- Pole Attachment Legislation – Letter of support in Vermont
- Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee – Working Group on State Models
• Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment – Comments filed June 15, Replies due July 17
- Restoring Internet Freedom – Comments due July 17, Replies due August 16
- Improving Competitive Broadband Access to Multiple Tenant Environments – Comments dates yet to be set
Again, we welcome members to join us on the Public Policy Committee and we will continue to work on critical assets, such as the 5G whitepaper, that we can leverage as part of our advocacy in accelerating the deployment of fiber networks. Please feel free to reach out to myself, Heather, Tom or any member of the Public Policy Committee if you have any questions, concerns or wish to have further information.
Gary Bolton - ADTRAN
Public Policy Committee Chair
Fiber Broadband Association Board of Directors