Virtually all decisions taken by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission occur within a clear context of “what is best for the public interest,” even when we do not all agree on how best to protect the public interest.
That context is why all proposals, and all decisions, must be justified on benefits for the public. The coming decision on AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV will fit the mold.
As a result of the approval conditions, “12.5 million customer locations will have access to a
competitive high-speed fiber connection,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. That is “about 10 times the size of AT&T’s current fiber-to-the-premise deployment, increases the entire nation’s residential fiber build by more than 40 percent, and more than triples the number of metropolitan areas AT&T has announced plans to serve,” said Wheeler.
“AT&T will not be permitted to exclude affiliated video services and content from data caps on its fixed broadband connections,” a move to help ensure a level playing field for all content services.
“Second, in order to bring greater transparency to interconnection practices, the company will be required to submit all completed interconnection agreements to the Commission, along with regular reports on network performance,” Wheeler said.
“These strong measures will protect consumers, expand high-speed broadband availability, and increase competition,” said Wheeler.
Whether one agrees or disagrees, the point is that all decisions must be justified on benefits for the public, just as all proposals from stakeholders must likewise be so crafted.