Richard Whitt

Washington Telecom and Media Counsel, Google

The FCC's National Broadband Plan: A Critique through the Lens of Adaptive Policymaking
23 minutes, 10.6mb, recorded 2011-06-28
Richard Whitt

As Richard Whitt expounds on the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) blueprint to advance uptake of broadband services, he insists on adaptive policymaking as a way to guard against overbearing governmental regulations on the one hand, and short-sighted corporate policies in the absence of reasonable regulation. Adaptive policymaking rests in an awareness of what's happening in the market and adjusts as needed, according to Whitt.

The national broadband plan was passed by Congress as part of the 2009 broadband stimulus package, which was constructed not to re-establish American leadership regarding connectivity, but as part of a multilateral effort to save an economy that seemed to be continuing the rapid disintegration, which started in 2008. The FCC completed a 360-page study at the request of the US Congress, which found that all the issues of the US broadband plan come down to an issue of shortage: shortage of supply, demand, spectrum for wireless broadband platforms, and competition.

According to Whitt a key goal of the FCC was capability of serving 100 megabytes to 100 million homes by 2020. Some obstacles to avoid as implementation of this plan unfolds are: making policy decisions before gathering data; Treat the plan as an evolving beta process and not a static report that will be forgotten like so many others; being chained to top-down, inflexible points of view; and back-loading the features of the plan so its benefits or failures are not recognizable.

Richard Whitt is Google’s Senior Policy Director. Whitt is responsible for Google’s wireline, wireless, and media advocacy before the Federal Communications Commission, other federal agencies, and the U.S. Congress.  Prior to joining Google in January 2007 he founded and headed NetsEdge Consulting, a public policy consulting firm that provided legal analysis, regulatory strategy, and advocacy counsel to Web-based companies. From 1994 to 2006 he worked at MCI Communications, where most recently he served as vice president for federal law and policy. Prior to that Whitt was an associate attorney in the communications practices of two D.C.-based law firms. He is a 1988 cum laude graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and a 1984 magna cum laude graduate of James Madison University.


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