Dallas: The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is delighted to hear that today, in a speech in Cincinnati, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai embraced our concept for Broadband Enterprise Zones as a way to make broadband available in unserved or underserved areas.
We’re being a bit tongue-in-cheek, since Commissioner Pai probably doesn’t realize he has adopted IPI’s idea. Our proposal was made to the FCC in 2009 comments and Commissioner Pai didn’t join the FCC until 2012, but we’re happy to see our concept embraced nonetheless. IPI would be delighted to work with Commissioner Pai to see his new Gigabit Enterprise Zone proposal implemented.
“I’m just happy to see a good idea bubble to the surface and get some attention,” said IPI President Tom Giovanetti. “These days it’s awfully rare. We know Commissioner Pai almost certainly didn’t know we had proposed a similar thing seven years ago, but we’re maintaining good humor about it. Different people can have the same good idea at different times. Think tanks are in the business of generating good ideas and then seeing others run with them anyway, so it’s all good.”
IPI’s proposal recommended defining zones that lacked broadband access and creating tax preference and other tax credits to encourage private providers to build out and serve those areas. IPI also recommended regulatory relief for providers who committed to serving broadband enterprise zones, and vouchers for households to pay for installation and other hook-up expenses.
IPI’s proposal was designed as a market-based alternative to far more problematic solutions such as huge federal subsidies and government provision of broadband. Unfortunately, the Obama administration and the FCC chose to go those routes. Now, having lost decisively in the courts, perhaps this is an occasion for the FCC to choose a better strategy.