tirsdag 16. mars 2010

FCC announces National Broadband Plan

Today the FCC has finally unveiled the National Broadband Plan, following many months of speculation.
The plan marks the first time that broadband access, and internet access in general,  has been given considerable government focus in America. Judging from the beginning of the Executive Summary for the plan, it’s clear that the FCC understands the importance of what it’s doing:
Broadband is the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st century.
Like electricity a century ago, broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life. It is enabling entire new industries and unlocking vast new possibilities for existing ones. It is changing how we educate children, deliver health care, manage energy, ensure public safety, engage government, and access, organize and disseminate knowledge.
The FCC started work on the plan in April 2009 — after Congress had directed the agency to come up with a National Broadband Plan — with a notice of inquiry that asked for feedback from the public. It followed that up with thirty-six public workshops that were streamed online, and drew more than 10,000 attendees, both online and in-person. Further refinement came from replies to 31 public notices, which generated 23,000 comments from more than 700 parties. Coupled with the impressive work on the Broadband.gov website, and it’s very popular Twitter feed, the FCC showed an admirable amount of effort in getting as many voices heard as possible.
The agency believes it can influence the broadband environment in four ways:

Design policies to ensure robust competition and, as a result maximize consumer welfare, innovation and investment.
Ensure efficient allocation and management of assets government controls or influences, such as spectrum, poles, and rights-of-way, to encourage network upgrades and competitive entry.
Reform current universal service mechanisms to support deployment of broadband and voice in high-cost areas; and ensure that low-income Americans can afford broadband; and in addition, support efforts to boost adoption and utilization.
Reform laws, policies, standards and incentives to maximize the benefits of broadband in sectors government influences significantly, such as public education, health care and government operations.

Notable points within those four initiatives include making 500 megahertz of wireless spectrum available over the next ten years, and the creation of the Connect America Fund to support affordable broadband in unserved areas.
The agency also announced six long term goals that it will recommend the country adopt over the next decade. They include: Having affordable access to broadband in 100 million homes, with download speeds of 100 megabits per second, and upload speeds of 50 Mbp/s. The U.S. should lead in mobile innovation, with better wireless networks than any other nation.  And every community should have access to 1 gigabit per second fiber broadband for institutions like schools, hospitals, and government buildings.
While the FCC’s long term goals are somewhat wishful thinking, I think it’s important that they exist. Recognizing the importance of broadband is a long overdue mind shift for the American government, but a necessary one.
Tags: broadband, FCC, National Broadband Plan

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