The FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) has now suffered another major defection —based on allegations of cozy ties with giant telcom companies.
New York City’s CTO Miguel Gamiño Jr. is the latest high-profile official to quit the FCC’s controversial Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). The defection is based on policies that are doing little to help lower-income Americans.
Gamiño is the second marquee member to quit this year. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, criticized for being a whipping boy for big ISPs and telecommunications companies, formed BDAC at the beginning of 2017. The advisory board was initiated to “provide the agency with recommendations on to how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet access by removing or reducing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.”
That appears to be a hollow platitude — at least the part that involves people actually getting broadband. According to Gamiño’s March 28th resignation letter to Pai, the New York official said that after participating in “100 hours of calls,” attending a full day in-person meeting in Washington D.C. and submitting “countless edits, drafts and comments,” he has determined that “despite good faith efforts by both the staff and members involved, the membership structure and meeting format of the BDAC has skewed the drafting of the proposed recommendations towards industry priorities without regard for a true public-private partnership.”
Gamiño noted that roughly 75 percent of members represent large telecommunications and cable companies, or interests involved with those companies. That was more than just unsettling — it was substantial enough to skew the stated aims of the Committee.
Gamiño said the circumstances left him with “no choice but to step away from this committee” so that he can focus the city’s resources on alternative avenues “that provide more productive opportunities for achieving the kind of cooperative progress in advancing broadband deployment in the public interest.”
Gamiño’s resignation comes after the resignation of former Vice Chair Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, early this year. Liccardo felt that recommendations overwhelmingly favored giant telecommunications and cable companies.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a vocal advocate of protecting net neutrality, has also slammed the Council.
“While I appreciate the BDAC’s acknowledgment that public-private partnerships may provide solutions to bridge those divides, I noticed that there was an expressed preference for the industry over municipalities in broadband deployment efforts,” Clyburn told the advisory committee in January. “As I have said many, many times before, one size does not fit all, and private industry infrastructure investments do not always flow to communities that are most in need.”