San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has resigned from a Federal Communications Commission committee tasked with expanding access to broadband. In a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Liccardo said the focus of the group "plainly prioritized industry interests."
In the letter, Liccardo wrote, "I hoped to develop balanced, common-sense recommendations that will advance our goal of expanding broadband access across the country, particularly for the 34 million low-income and rural Americans who lack that access. Instead, after nine months of deliberation, the committee has made no progress toward a single proposal. Not a single one of the draft recommendations attempts to meaningfully identify any new or significant resources to promote digital inclusion."
Liccardo said in an interview with KQED that he is still committed to establishing broadband access to everyone in San Jose, particularly among poor and minority communities.
"Certainly net neutrality was a fight worth fighting, and will continue to be here in Silicon Valley," Liccardo said. "But this is even a bigger issue because this is about who gets access at all."
According to a city of San Jose Digital Inclusion Report produced in partnership with Stanford University last fall, 28 percent of San Jose residents don't have access to broadband at home. The majority of those without access cite cost as a major prohibitive factor.
"We are in the heart of Silicon Valley and it's really a shame to see so many people who are not connected," said Shireen Santosham, chief innovation officer for Liccardo's office. "We have about 95,000 residents in San Jose that don't have access to high-quality broadband. The majority of those are low-income folks, and a very high proportion of that is the Latino Hispanic community."