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paltschul at centurytel.net
Sun Apr 19 09:57:53 CDT 2009
US Drawing up National Broadband Plan
By Staff Writers
April 9, 2009
Supporters of US presidential candidate Herbert Hoover
famously pledged during the 1928 campaign that he would
"put a chicken in every pot and a car in every
backyard" if elected.
While Hoover failed, presiding instead over the Great
Depression, President Barack Obama is determined to
fulfil a similar campaign vow of his own but one with a
21st century twist -- to put broadband in every home.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) kicked off
the ambitious project on Wednesday, launching a process
to come up with a "National Broadband Plan" to bring
high-speed Internet access to every corner of the
Funding for the broadband "road map" was included in
the nearly 800-29llion-dollar economic stimulus
package, which also allocated 7.2 billion dollars to
extend broadband coverage to "underserved" rural areas.
The FCC is seeking input for the national broadband
plan from consumers, industry, businesses, non-profits
and federal, state and local governments and must
report back to Congress by February 17, 2010.
The plan will look at such issues as broadband supply
and demand, quality and affordability as well as
"problems, threats or vulnerabilities" such as privacy
It will examine how to use broadband to advance civic
participation in government, public safety and homeland
security, community development, health care delivery,
energy independence and efficiency and education.
"Today, we commence a national dialogue on how we as a
nation can make high-speed broadband available,
affordable and easily useable to citizens and
businesses throughout the land," said acting FCC
chairman Michael Copps.
"This Commission has never, I believe, received a more
serious charge than the one to spearhead development of
a national broadband plan," said Copps, who is heading
the FCC while Obama's appointee, veteran technology
executive Julius Genachowski, awaits Senate
"We have a long way to go to get high-speed, value-
laden broadband out to all our citizens," Copps
acknowledged, but he vowed to come up with a plan to
make the United States "the world's broadband beacon."
The United States trails Japan, Sweden, South Korea,
France, Germany and Canada in broadband quality and
subscription rates per capita, according to rankings by
the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
One crucial question to be decided is speed.
Median US broadband speeds are less than 5.0 megabits
per second (Mbps) -- capable of moving five million
bits of data per second -- according to the ITIF, from
slower than those of Japan (63 Mbps) and South Korea
The FCC presently defines broadband as 786 Kbps -- too
slow for efficient video streaming, for example -- and
the ITIF and other groups are seeking target speeds of
between 10 Mbps and 50 Mbps.
Australia earlier this week announced plans to build a
30-29llion-dollar government-controlled national
broadband network offering speeds of up to 100 Mbps to
90 percent of homes and businesses and 12 Mbps to the
The US telecom industry is wary of too much government
intervention in the broadband plan, although some
groups argue more regulation is needed.
"Any new strategy must take into account how past
policies failed to deliver the open, competitive
broadband marketplace Congress intended," said Derek
Turner, research director of media reform organization
"Under the last administration's wait-and-see approach,
competition disappeared, speeds stagnated, prices went
through the roof, and the open Internet was placed in
"We never depended solely on free market economics for
universal delivery of affordable electricity and phone
service, and there's no reason to expect that we can do
so for high speed Internet access," said Ed Black,
president of the Computer and Communications Industry
Robert McDowell, a Republican-appointed member of the
FCC, warned, however, against over-regulation.
"In order to attract investors to fund the buildout of
new networks, we must not engage in rulemakings that
produce whimsical regulatory arbitrage," he said in a
statement. "Rather, we must allow market players to
succeed or fail on their own merits and not due to the
government picking winners and losers."
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