FCC Broadband Agenda for Small Businesses Advances

The FCC issues a public notice asking for feedback on broadband issues concerning small business owners.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the next step in advancing the agency's small business broadband agenda, part of a broader FCC plan which includes connecting communities to broadband through the Universal Service Fund, promoting mobile connectivity by unleashing more spectrum, and, in partnership with the Small Business Administration, training small businesses to use digital tools to reach wider markets and improve their operations.

Speaking to a crowd of top eBay sellers this week in Washington, D.C., Genachowski said the FCC will issue a Public Notice to help improve the FCC's understanding of business broadband needs, a key recommendation in the National Broadband Plan. "We know that technology can give us a bright economic future--if we have the right infrastructure and policies in place," Genachowski said.

Specifically, the FCC is seeking comment on questions including what transmission services, technologies or types of facilities are used in the business broadband marketplace are relevant to a full understanding of the marketplace and what the overall size of the business broadband marketplace is today in terms of revenues and demand.

The Public Notice stated the FCC understands that optical fiber facilities are increasingly being used for higher-capacity offerings, but that legacy copper facilities (with or without higher-layer communication protocols), co-axial cable facilities, and wireless spectrum remain highly desirable transmission media that are used in a wide variety of circumstances.

The Commission said it has also consistently recognized that business customers who are buying specialized, high-capacity services demand-and are often willing to pay a premium for-flexible and guaranteed quality offerings, and that as a result providers treat them differently from residential customers in the products they offer, the way they market and sell these products, and the prices they charge.

"The technology sector, which accounts for one-sixth of our economy and an even higher percentage of economic growth, will be critical to our nation's economic recovery," he continued. "That is why we are aggressively pursuing policies to lay a foundation for long-term economic growth, and catalyze private investment and job creation, particularly among small business."

The FCC's notice summarized that it seeks to ensure that the organization's understanding of broadband business markets, including current trends in and any issues with those markets, is thorough. The goal, the notice said, is to ensure that businesses realize the maximum benefits of broadband services and competition. The FCC terms the business broadband marketplace as including both retail and wholesale offerings, and said it requires policies that enable competitive retail markets, incentives for investments in facilities, and access where competitive infrastructure cannot be economically deployed.

"In this Public Notice, we take a first step to address this issue by seeking to ensure that the Commission has a thorough understanding of the business broadband marketplace," the notice explained. "To that end, we seek comment from business broadband providers, business broadband customers and any other interested parties regarding the current state of, and trends and issues in, business broadband markets."