FCC takes first step to develop national broadband plan

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a national broadband plan, due to Congress by February 17, 2010. As a first step, the FCC published a Notice of Inquiry on April 8 seeking public comment on the national broadband plan.

The national broadband plan will "seek to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability," according to an FCC press release. In order to create the best possible plan, the FCC wants input from "consumers, industry, large and small businesses, non-profits, the disabilities community, governments at the federal, state, local and tribal levels, and all other interested parties."

Acting FCC Commissioner Michael Copps issued a statement about the national broadband plan:

"Broadband can be the great enabler that restores America's economic well-being and opens doors of opportunity for all Americans to pass through, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives. It is technology that intersects with just about every great challenge confronting our nation--whether it's jobs, education, energy, climate change and the environment, international competitiveness, health care, overcoming disabilities, equal opportunity--the list goes on. Enabling our people and our enterprises through value-laden broadband can spell the difference between just muddling through if we're lucky and opening the way to many more years of U.S. prosperity and world leadership."

The plan must provide a roadmap for achieving universal broadband access. Specifically, the plan must lay out:

  • "The most effective and efficient ways to ensure broadband access for all Americans;
  • Strategies for achieving affordability and maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and services;
  • Evaluation of the status of broadband deployment, including the progress of related grant programs;
  • How to use broadband to advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation, and economic growth, and other national purposes."

Copps said:

"Our Notice of Inquiry seeks to be open, inclusive, out-reaching and data-hungry. It seeks input from stakeholders both traditional and non-traditional--those who daily ply the halls of our hallowed Portals, those that would like to have more input here if we really enable them to have it, and those who may never have heard of the Federal Communications Commission."

Speed Matters applauds this development, and will be an active participant in the rulemaking. The United States is one of the few advanced economies without a national broadband blueprint, and as a result, has fallen behind our global competitors in high-speed Internet.

The public can submit their comment on the national broadband plan here.

FCC Launches Development of National Broadband Plan (FCC)

Statement of Acting Chairman Michael J. Copps (FCC)

National Broadband Plan Notice of Inquiry (FCC)