Thursday, April 9, 2009

FCC to Create U.S. to Create National Broadband Plan

The recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also known as the stimulus act, charged the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with making grants and loans to expand broadband deployment and for other important broadband projects. Congress provided $7.2 billion for this effort but is not insufficient to support nationwide broadband deployment. Consequently, the Recovery Act charges the FCC to create a national broadband plan by February 17, 2010, that will seek to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability and establishes clear benchmarks for meeting that goal.

This kind of comprehensive plan is over due. Europe and countries such as Japan, Korea, and Australia are well ahead of the U.S. in this effort.

The problem is that such a comprehensive view is very a very complex project. It will be difficult to bring focus to such a large effort that will make it effective. It could easily end up so general that it does not provide a useful perspective.

I think that the FCC should focus on creating an open environment that creates a competitive service environment based on fiber to the home and 4G wireless. The current approach that relies on competition between the telco and cable giants impedes competition. ADSL, VDSL, 2G, and 3G wireless are all technologies that are either now obsolete or rapidly approaching their obsolescence. Drawing such clear lines will help the FCC make this effort meaningful.

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