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What about Us? NARUC Urges FCC to Add Members to Broadband Committee

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners wants FCC chmn Ajit Pai to expand membership of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). Of the group’s 30 members, two represent state government, two represent city government and one represents a tribal government, NARUC said. The percentages aren’t any better for BDAC’s five working groups, with one NARUC and six local government reps among the 58 participants. “A simple review of the current roster suggests the committee is heavily weighted in favor of those seeking attachments to poles. The concept for this committee was a good one, but the usefulness of any recommendations is likely to be undermined by this imbalance,” NARUC said in a letter dated Monday.

The group isn’t the only one to complain about BDAC’s composition, with utilities/pole owners having fretted about having only two seats at the table. All of this is further evidence of the importance of pole attachment regulations and decisions. BDAC held its first meeting in April, meeting again in July. Its membership includes representatives from TDS Telecom, AT&T, Comcast, Nittany Media, MMTC, Wireless Infrastructure Association and Google Fiber, among many others.

It’s not unheard of to have more people added to the committee. In June, Pai added Lenexa, KS, City Council member Andy Huckaba to the group. But it doesn’t sound like there are any plans for further expansion. Asked about the composition of BDAC after this month’s FCC Open Meeting, Pai declared he was pleased with the diversity of the committee. “Obviously, we had a limited number of slots available and so we wanted to make sure we cast a wide net so to speak in terms of arraying a number of different perspectives,” the chmn said. “I do think we have a fair representation of all perspectives… Everyone brings to the table a unique skillset, and I wish we could accommodate everyone of course, but that’s not possible with the limited advisory committee that we’ve got.”

NARUC will keep trying. The group passed a resolution in July that urges the FCC to add representation and concludes the committee’s work is unlikely to lead to a balanced recommendation.

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