Outlines of FCC national broadband plan emerge
Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission plans to release its plan to expand broadband Internet access across the United States, but the executive summary of this initiative is already online, as my colleague Cecilia Kang posted earlier today.
That document (PDF) outlines a set of measures the FCC and other government agencies can take to encourage companies to expand high-speed Internet access: collecting and publishing data about the availability of broadband in different markets across the country, streamlining existing rules governing telecom policy, making an extra 500 MHz of wireless spectrum available for broadband use and increasing subsidies for deploying broadband in underserved markets.
The spectrum moves are most likely to be a political football, considering how most of the airwaves are already spoken for. (I got a firsthand taste of how contentious this can be when I moderated a panel discussion on this topic at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.) The summary mentions that the FCC could set up auctions and other markets to reward existing spectrum holders who agree to give up their frequencies. Later on, the document also suggests that some spectrum might be auctioned off under the condition that the winning bidder provide "free or low-cost service."
As Kang noted, the plan excludes any line-sharing requirement that would have telecom carriers renting out their networks to competing Internet providers, something many advocates have urged but which incumbent firms hate.
(FCC chair Julius Genachowski wrote an op-ed piece for the Post yesterday lobbying for the plan.)
Full details of the plan should appear tomorrow, but for now have a look at the summary -- it's a quick read -- and let me know what you think in the comments.
March 15, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories: Policy and politics , Telecom
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