U.S. Telecom, FCC square off on broadband

Rick Kaplan, chief counsel to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, and Walter McCormick, president of U.S. Telecom, squared off on Tuesday on whether the FCC was right to tell Congress this month that broadband is not being deployed in a timely and reasonable way to all U.S. residents. 

"We think that it is alarmist; we think it was intended to alarm, and as a result we are alarmed," McCormick said.

McCormick noted that 95 percent of people in the U.S. have access to broadband — the same percentage covered by the healthcare reform law, which has been categorized as “universal” in scope.

McCormick said a chief concern is that the report will be used as "a predicate for increased government regulation in a dynamic sector of the economy." 

Kaplan countered that the report, which the agency regularly issues to Congress, reflects the fact that up to 24 million Americans remain without broadband. He said the report considered the perspective of consumers who do not have access, rather than attempting to attack broadband providers. 

Kaplan added that it is increasingly important for people to have access, noting that key tasks like job-hunting have migrated online.

"If you leave millions of Americans behind, they are going to be far behind very quickly," he said.

Listen to the conversation on the Kojo Nnamdi Show here. PostTech's Cecilia Kang moderated.