The Federal Communications Commission held an open meeting today to discuss many of the proposals the agency put forth in the recently released National Broadband Plan. Although the video stream of the proceedings was choppy, I did manage to catch bits and pieces of the event. For each agenda item, spokespeople came forward to provide background information, and a request that the FCC continue with plans for a Notice of Inquiry, and/or a Notice of Proposed Rule Making. On all six agenda items (see list below), the FCC voted to continue with an NOI and/or an NPRM.
Continued investigation is a good thing, especially because, as is often the case with regulatory proposals, the devil is in the details. For example, the FCC has launched an inquiry on a proposed all-MVPD gateway device as a means to spur more competition in the retail video device market. But how “smart” or “dumb” should that gateway be? How much will it cost? (The cable industry incurred huge costs with the CableCARD mandate.) How will it affect innovation in the MVPD network? Given the dynamic nature of the market, will today’s regulations still be relevant and meaningful by the time the industry has had a chance to implement them?
It’s also important to note that there’s a huge amount of innovation going on right now – much of it a direct result of competition – that shouldn’t be ignored. This includes advances in 3D TV, TV Everywhere, and interactive television. That’s not to say it’s been a smooth ride, or that it couldn’t be smoother, but progress in the industry shouldn’t be understated.
FCC Agenda items:
- Universal Service Fund reform
- Wireless data roaming
- Commercial availability of video devices
- Ability of broadband infrastructure to withstand natural disasters