The following may be attributed to Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory:
“For months, the FCC has been pushing aside the APA and due process in this proceeding. This is especially troubling when the policies the agency seems to be pursuing will have such a devastating impact on the incentives of all companies to invest in fiber infrastructure in the United States. Over and over, the Commission has modified and updated data that are supposed to be the foundation of its analysis without allowing parties sufficient time to adjust to the constantly moving target. Yesterday, the Commission released the peer review responses to its third-party economist’s study (the study which constitutes the analytical core of its NPRM) two months after they were received by the Commission, and on the same day comments on the NPRM were due. The Commission did this despite having assured all parties that it would release the peer review data when completed, which should have been two months ago.
“To put it another way, the FCC released an NPRM which it knew (at the time of release) was based on a study that peer review had determined was flawed. It then required the industry to file comments on that flawed study. And once comments were filed, the Commission performed a huge data dump on the industry (which we will now have to unpack and comment upon) containing these previously withheld peer reviews and additional analyses that purport to respond to them. Moreover, instead of having their hired third party economist address the comments from his peers on his paper, the Commission assigned that task to the same FCC staff which will write the final rules in this proceeding. This is completely unorthodox and defeats the entire purpose of having a third party study in the first place.
“Whatever the FCC’s excuse for delaying the release of this critical data, the lack of due process only reinforces that this agency is driving to reach a pre-ordained outcome. This is the very thing that is not supposed to happen under the Administrative Procedures Act. Rather than arriving at a sound policy decision based on unbiased factual analysis, the Commission seems determined to once again put its thumb on the scale, picking winners and losers in the market based on their own arbitrary predetermined interests. Further, the agency appears to be ignoring the Commission’s statutorily required processes in order to achieve that desired result. Actions like this ultimately tarnish the agency’s reputation and leave the Commission open to claims that it is merely carrying out a politically motivated agenda rather than acting as an independent agency operating in accordance with the APA. The FCC may be in a hurry to check every box on its agenda before January, but that in no way excuses the process abuses we are seeing.”