Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai delivered a speech at the International Institute of Communications' International Regulators Forum, where he discussed several initiatives and proceedings undertaken by the Commission that will help spur broadband investment.
Specifically, Chairman Pai stated:
The best way to make sure every American has better, faster, cheaper Internet access is to set a market-based regulatory framework that promotes competition and increases network investment. We need to make it as appealing as possible for private companies to raise the capital and hire the crews to deploy networks to unserved and underserved areas. That is why the FCC has removed many regulatory barriers to lower the cost and speed the process of building infrastructure. For example, the agency has adopted reforms to make it easier and cheaper for broadband providers to access utility poles. The FCC has also modernized rules that required carriers to maintain yesterday's copper networks, which frees more money to build tomorrow's fiber networks.
Chairman Pai also gave some specific examples of the rules and proposals adopted by the FCC that will cut regulatory costs and streamline broadband deployment for wireline, mobile, and satellite broadband services. In a March 2018 Perspectives from FSF Scholars titled "Reaching Rural America: Free Market Solutions for Promoting Broadband Deployment," I explained how the increasing capabilities of emerging broadband technologies, like satellite, fixed wireless, and mobile wireless, will provide unserved and rural consumers with a viable alternative for a broadband connection. I also outlined what the FCC has done to accelerate the deployment of these services and what still needs to be done at the federal, state, and local levels.
As you can see from the graph above, rural broadband deployment improved dramatically from 2012 to 2016. If the FCC continues to adopt market-based rules and reduce the regulatory costs of broadband deployment, providers of all broadband technologies will be incentivized to invest in rural and underserved areas, closing the gap of the digital divide.