The Federal Communications Commission is planning to announce a nationwide broadband initiative this week to expand coverage in the United States. On Tuesday, the Commission will deliver to Congress a National Broadband Plan setting an agenda for connecting all corners of the nation to a modern broadband infrastructure.
Entitled “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan,” the FCC found that while broadband access and use have increased over the past decade, the nation must do much more to connect all individuals and the economy to broadband’s benefits. The Commission found nearly 100 million Americans lack broadband at home today, and 14 million Americans do not have access to broadband even if they want it. Only 42 percent of people with disabilities use broadband at home, while as few as five percent of people living on Tribal lands have access.
The Plan’s call for action over the next decade includes connecting 100 million households to affordable 100-megabits-per-second service, securing affordable access in every American community to ultra-high-speed broadband of at least 1 gigabit per second at anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals, and military installations, ensuring that the U.S. is leading the world in mobile innovation by making 500 megahertz of spectrum newly available for licensed and unlicensed use and moving adoption rates from roughly 65 percent to more than 90 percent.
Other goals including bringing affordable broadband to rural communities, schools, libraries, and vulnerable populations, promoting competition across the broadband ecosystem through greater transparency, and removing barriers to entry as well as conducting market-based analysis with quality data on price, speed, and availability. Last week, the FCC launched two digital tools, the Consumer Broadband Test and the Broadband Dead Zone Report, which allow consumers to test their broadband service and report areas where broadband is not available.
The Broadband Dead Zone Report enables Americans to submit the street address location of a broadband “dead zone” where broadband is unavailable for purchase, while the Consumer Broadband Test measures broadband quality indicators such as speed and latency, and reports that information to consumers and the FCC.
“The National Broadband Plan is a 21st century roadmap to spur economic growth and investment, create jobs, educate our children, protect our citizens, and engage in our democracy,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “It’s an action plan, and action is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness, and harness the power of broadband to help address so many vital national issues.”