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by Henry Rivera, Chairman, MMTC

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Implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) in Puerto Rico has thus far proven to be a significant hurdle for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The NBP was well received by the telecommunications and technology industries, policymakers, and several leading national Hispanic, Asian, and African American groups, all of which are quickly realizing that, without access to broadband services, they will not be able to compete and participate in the 21st century’s digital economy.

In a recent study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. fared very well in its broadband deployment, with more subscribers of broadband residing in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. While shortcomings still exist, the state of broadband in the U.S. fares better than or equal to all 33 countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which are lauded as the most economically prosperous countries worldwide. However, the FCC’s recent study on broadband adoption found that no one in Puerto Rico has access to broadband.

Consider the following:

In a recent report by the U.S. GAO (Government Accountability Office), the U.S. is highlighted as having exceeded or equaled the best broadband resources in the world.  Amongst the 33 OECD countries, most of which are considered the most prosperous and economically free in the world, the U.S. excelled in most of the categories.  A statement by the SBE Council summarizes the results:

To sum up, the broadband story in the U.S. is impressive. Despite being one of the largest nations, with its population spread widely, U.S. broadband is comprehensively deployed; broadband speeds are above the average for developed nations (with some U.S. cities having the world’s fastest); and broadband subscribers are the most in the world, with above average subscribers per 100 households.

That’s a tribute to investments and innovations made by the nation’s broadband providers. It is, of course, critical that policymakers keep these impressive feats in mind when considering regulations and taxes in the broadband arena. A pro-competition, light regulatory touch policy regime clearly makes the most sense.[1]

Puerto Rico’s Contribution

Although Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, broadband investment and implementation on the island is dismal.  The MMTC (Minority Media and Telecommunications Council) pointed this out in a notice submitted ex parte to FCC commissioners on September 12th.[2]

Within the letter, MMTC lauds the Commission’s recent report on broadband deployment,[3] then commences to upbraid its oversight of the 4 million Hispanic U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. Read the rest of this entry »

In an article today, John Eggerton, of Broadcasting & Cable, reiterated Puerto Rico’s call for an FCC reversal on their decision to delay assisting the island in its Broadband implementation.  Given that the lack of access to minimal IT infrastructure severely limits a society’s ability to compete on any economic level, Puerto Rico should be considered a high priority for increasing broadband access. 

Puerto Rican Officials ask FCC for Broadband Help: Say dealing with issue as part of USF reform will take too long

The governor of Puerto Rico and other officials there have asked the FCC to reverse a decision they say will leave the territory without sufficient access to broadband for too long.

While Governor Luis Fortuno said he understood the FCC had said it preferred dealing with the issue as part of general overall Universal Service Fund reform, he said that would be a multi-year process and that Puerto Rico has already waited too long to get comparable service to the U.S.

He asked that the FCC reconsider the request of the Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) for a separate fund and its promise to use it for broadband. He also wants the FCC to create a Puerto Rico broadband pilot program and consider designating staff to deal specifically with Puerto Rico broadband issues. Read the rest of this entry »

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