Telecom chief slams interest groups for FCC lobbying


 "The challenge for the agency is to keep focused on achieving its priority objective of accelerating broadband deployment to unserved Americans despite the political pressures being applied by interests that are trying to use this proceeding to advance objectives that are irrelevant to speeding investment in 21st Century information infrastructure," McCormick wrote.

The high-cost portion of the Universal Service Fund was originally designed to subsidize the expansion of landline phone access in rural areas, but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to refocus the fund to pay for expanding broadband Internet access.

Consumers pay for the fund through monthly charges on their phone bills.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on Genachowski's proposal at its meeting on Thursday.

McCormick slammed the wireless industry for lobbying the FCC to expand the portion of the fund devoted to deploying wireless broadband. 

"[Wireless companies] argue that more money is needed for rural wireless, but offer no financial data, cost studies, or economic analysis to show how or where such enormous expenditures will result in accelerating broadband deployment to unserved Americans," he wrote.

CTIA, the wireless industry's trade group, shot back at McCormick, arguing that FCC data shows consumers want mobile Internet access. 

"Perhaps most importantly, he fails to acknowledge the mobile broadband revolution that, right before our eyes, is driving innovation not only through consumer products, but also for other industries such as [mobile] health, smart grid, mobile education and intelligent transportation," Chris Guttman-McCabe, CTIA's vice president of regulatory affairs, said.

McCormick saved his strongest criticism for public interest groups such as Free Press, calling them "career protesters" who do more harm for consumers than good.

"These well-rehearsed reactionaries argue that regulators should never allow companies to have the market freedom to raise prices – even where consumers are protected by competition, and even where allowing such economic freedom is necessary to the successful restructuring of an antiquated subsidy program that will result in consumers benefiting from greater savings overall," McCormick wrote. "Free Press and its brethren offer no data, only histrionics."

Free Press bristled at McCormick's rhetoric.

“USTA is protecting the financial interests of the large telecom companies it represents, however the facts speak for themselves and we don’t feel the need to resort to name-calling,” Free Press political adviser Joel Kelsey said.