San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Quits Key FCC Advisory Panel

When Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai launched an advisory board on high-speed internet access, he billed it as a way to bring broadband to more people. But San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo—for a time, the group’s only city representative—quit the committee in protest, saying the initiative has been hijacked by the telecom industry.

“When I joined this committee, I hoped that I could contribute to developing balanced, common-sense recommendations that will advance our goal of expanding broadband access for all Americans, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai identified as his ‘top priority’ at yesterday’s meeting,” Liccardo explained in his resignation letter. “It has become abundantly clear, however, that Chairman Pai and the FCC merely pay lip service to the goal of digital equity, and this body will simply serve to further the interests of the telecommunications industry over the public interest. As a result, I have submitted my resignation to the FCC Broadband Deployment Advisory Board effective immediately.”

Though ostensibly formed as a partnership among community stakeholders, the board quickly came under fire for its clear bias toward telecommunication companies. In August, the Center for Public Integrity described how local governments felt hoodwinked when the FCC stacked the panel with industry-friendly appointees.

In his parting missive, Liccardo said he initially hoped the committee would come up with balanced recommendations, but ultimately realized that wasn’t going to happen.

“The chairs of the working groups on which I participated have been very cordial, and collaborative in tone, and I am grateful for that,” he wrote. “However, after nine months of deliberation, negotiation, and discussion, we’ve made no progress toward a single proposal that will actually further the goal of equitable broadband deployment. Although we’ve adopted principles that pay lip service to that objective, not a single one of the draft recommendations attempts to meaningfully identify any new or significant resources to promote digital inclusion. My team’s vocal attempts—and those of other stakeholders—to note that glaring omission have not resulted in any meaningful changes.”

The problem became clear, he said, at the latest meeting in Washington D.C., where one working group with not a single municipal rep among 30-plus participants created a draft state code that eliminated local control. Another subcommittee had an industry apparatchik dramatically re-write its municipal code at the last minute, shrugging off months of deliberations.

“The result, in each case, were provisions that plainly prioritized industry interests,” Liccardo wrote.

Industry reps claimed that slashing lease rates on public infrastructure would help serve the 34 million Americans without broadband access, but Liccardo noted that the dearth of investment in low-income neighborhoods seems to indicate otherwise.

Telecom companies are trying to create rules that will give them easy access to public infrastructure at subsidized rates without any obligation to expand broadband access to underserved residents, the mayor said. Sub-market rates and by-right access to taxpayer-funded infrastructure strips cities of the ability to hold companies accountable for building equitable networks that reach low-income communities, he added.

“We should all embrace the opportunity of greater broadband deployment, at better speeds, with the latest technology,” Liccardo concluded. “Yet, we have to do it in a way that puts the public’s interest first.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Sam Liccardo was blocked from profiting on the project and quit. A typical Mexican response. He couldn’t make a buck and scam the system. He’s on Trump’s Mexican Seditionist list. Goodbye Jack===-

  2. > but Liccardo noted that the dearth of investment in low-income neighborhoods seems to indicate otherwise.

    Translation: “low-income neighborhoods” means “Democrat Permanent Underclass”.

    Liccardo was trying to engineer more “wealth redistribution” to his base.

    Democrats have absolutely no plans or no intentions of turning “low-income neighborhoods” into “medium-income neighborhoods” or “high-income neighborhoods”.

    Desperate low-income people are much more susceptible to believing Nigerian “free money” scams” because they have nothing to lose and any possible chance of a big payout is “pure upside”. Democrat politicians, for their part, have no hesitation to promise phony and fictitious get-rich schemes to gullible low-income voters because the desperately poor will only remember that “they had a chance”, and never remember all the times they were disappointed.

  3. Robberies, carjackings and assaults are all going up this week and this guys is protesting Trump. Sam get your S+HT together. Your citizens are becoming victims of crime at an alarming rate. You are a total disgrace.

  4. Great news, does this mean San Jose a low income neighborhood can finally get fiber optics line’s to its customers in rural east of 680.
    Oh no, senior Liccardo wants to keep you at 6MBPs, so you can play Dungeons and Dragon in slow motion.
    Do us a favor Sam, resign as mayor while you at it!

  5. > San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Quits Key FCC Advisory Panel

    Good start, Sam.

    But we would like to see a LOT MORE quitting from you.

  6. The stated mission of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee is “to provide advice and make recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or broadband, by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.”

    In quitting the panel, Lightweight Sam Liccardo was either staging another political stunt or he actually believes that government regulation, and not the free market, is the proven path to the Promised Land. Had that dunderheaded attitude prevailed decades ago there would be no digital technology about which to argue and Ma Bell would still be providing equitable and overpriced 1950’s telephone technology to every San Josean, even the mayor’s beloved illegals and welfare leeches.

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