Calls for National Broadband Plan Not Lacking in Ambition
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has already said the National Broadband Plan due to Congress in March will call for 100 million households at 100M bps by the end of the decade. A coalition of consumer and advocacy groups like that but call for even bolder goals and milestones.After a week of record snowfall in the nation's capital, Washington was hit by another blizzard this week: a flurry of broadband data, ambitious goals for the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan due to Congress March 17, and calls for the FCC to be bold in addressing the whole issue.
The National Broadband Plan, ordered by Congress last year as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has already been delayed by a month, but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Feb. 16 offered a preview of the ambitiousness of the agency's goals.
After pointing out that while the United States invented the Internet, Genachowski said at a NARUC (National Association of Regulatory Rural Commissioners) meeting in Washington that the United States has fallen behind in the global broadband race. He warned that the "rest of the world is not sitting around waiting for us to catch up."
Genachowski said the National Broadband Plan "will set goals for the U.S. to have the world's largest market of very high-speed broadband users. A '100 Squared' initiative-100 million households at 100M bps-to unleash American ingenuity and ensure that businesses, large and small, are created here, move here and stay here."
While roundly applauded and praised for the 100 Squared initiative, a coalition of advocacy groups called upon the FCC Feb. 17 to be even bolder still in its thinking.
"The Commission should not be timid in the creation of a national broadband policy. The plan should match the ambitious spirit of the Recovery Act, and should chart a course that will bring the nation a world-class information infrastructure available to all U.S. residents," Parul P. Desai of the Media Access Project said at a press conference. "We welcome the chairman's announcement of the '100 Squared' initiative as a crucial starting point, and look forward to further, aggressive efforts to expand broadband development in the months and years to come."
The groups called for the National Broadband Plan to include a set of bold benchmarks and policies. The press conference focused on five benchmarks the groups want included in the plan. Benchmark No. 1: The FCC should set a goal that U.S. broadband adoption of world-class networks equal the current rate of telephone adoption (over 90 percent) by 2020.The groups said that these networks should be available at world-class speeds with prices and quality of service that are reasonably comparable for all U.S. consumers.
"With one-third of U.S. households lacking broadband service at home, the Obama administration should declare the goal of raising the level of broadband adoption within a decade to 90 percent, which is about the level of telephone penetration today," said Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America. "Like John F. Kennedy's challenge to America to put a man on the moon within a decade, the U.S. needs to rise to meet its down-to-earth economic problem. Ending digital exclusion, which was the result of the Bush administration's trickle-down broadband policy, would be a major social and economic accomplishment."