Although the Federal Communications Commission was dealt a body blow April 6 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the agency’s legal authority to regulate broadband providers, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said April 8 the agency was moving ahead to implement many of the provisions of the recently announced National Broadband Plan.
“We are putting the National Broadband Plan into action,” Genachowski said in a statement. “The Commission’s Bureaus and Offices have already begun executing on the strategy the National Broadband Plan lays out to connect all Americans to broadband, unleash innovation an investment, enable job creation, and ensure a bright future of economic opportunity and prosperity.”
Among the topics Genachowski plans to tackle are to find 500 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum available for mobile broadband within the next 10 years and to increase opportunities for unlicensed devices and
innovative spectrum access models; and carry out a once-in-a-generation transformation of the Universal Service Fund over the next 10 years to support broadband service.
Genachowski claims this can be achieved by converting existing subsidy mechanisms over time from POTS (plain old telephone service) to broadband, without increasing the size of the fund over the current
Genachowski also plans to enhance broadband and marketplace choices for small businesses and mobile providers by establishing consistent policy frameworks for special access and wholesale wireline
competition by improving consumer disclosures and FCC data collection to better monitor and promote broadband competition.
The FCC also faces a mandate from Congress to ensure that video navigation devices, such as smart video devices, are available to consumers in the marketplace, spurring innovation in home video devices and driving increased broadband adoption and utilization.
Like other FCCs before it, the agency also hopes to facilitate the creation of a nationwide interoperable public safety wireless broadband network and to aid the transition to next generation 911 and
Building on the transparency and inclusiveness of the National Broadband Plan process, the FCC will implement Plan recommendations requiring rulemakings through a series of open, participatory notice-and-comment proceedings. The FCC will simultaneously work to implement the many Plan recommendations that do not require formal agency proceedings, such as providing consumer applications to measure broadband speed, while other government bodies and stakeholders consider Plan recommendations that fall outside the agency’s areas of responsibility.
“The court decision earlier this week does not change our broadband policy goals, or the ultimate authority of the FCC to act to achieve those goals. The court did not question the FCC’s goals; it merely invalidated one technical, legal mechanism for broadband policy chosen by prior Commissions,” Genachowski said. “It is essential that the Commission act on this roadmap to protect America’s global competitiveness and help deliver the extraordinary benefits of broadband to all Americans.”