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FCC to call for 10-year broadband plan, 100Mbps access

updated 09:45 am EST, Sat March 13, 2010

FCC to reveal national broadband plan Tuesday

The FCC's promised national broadband plan should have its formal unveiling on Tuesday, an early scoop of the details claimed on Saturday. Over the next 10 years, the agency would subsidize broadband Internet access for rural areas, creating a combination Internet and cable set-top box, and a previously hinted at plan to relicense as much as 500MHz of spectrum for wireless Internet access. Speed would be a critical focus as well, as the 100 Squared plan woube part of the proposal and promise 100Mbps Internet access to 100 million homes.

Some of the wireless spectrum would go deliberately unlicensed to allow for new technologies to develop, the FCC officials passing information to the NYT said. FCC officials have long been an advocate of using white space frequencies between used parts of the spectrum that could provide long-range Internet access.

More details also hint at education programs to teach computing skills to the inexperienced and that between $12 billion and $16 billion would be set aside for a national wireless public safety network to improve communication between emergency workers.

In encouraging development, the FCC's goal would be to have Internet access replace phones, TV and other conventional technologies as the primary form of communication in the US. Widespread Internet access would make online education and health care commonplace features in the US and would eliminate a gap in skill sets. About a third of the US doesn't have broadband, usually because those asked either can't afford the costs or because incumbent carriers refuse to service their areas, citing deployment costs.

The FCC is expected to face resistance. TV broadcasters have already made their opposition known, although the 500MHz relicensing plan would in many cases compensate those who voluntarily give up slices of their airwaves. Carriers have also been known to staunchly oppose any mandatory rural Internet deployments and are widely accused of using political strategies to avoid these requirements, including alleged misrepresentations of actual coverage and the sponsorship of "astroturf" (fake grassroots) organizations that lobby against these plans.

However, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has previously hinted that his regulators may not have to either draw on the federal budget or force telecom firms to eat into their profits to achieve its goals. One of his well-known proposals would gradually transition the Universal Service Fund away from its original goal of subsidizing phone lines and towards broadband, which in its current form could allocate as much as $8 billion towards deployments of fiber optics, wide-area wireless and other technologies into these areas. Carriers, including AT&T, have been willing to embrace that strategy and to push for the faster 100Mbps speeds as part of the target.


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Comments

  1. phillymjs

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2000

    +4

    Great idea...

    ...but might I suggest that this time we require the telcos to make tangible progress toward this goal first, THEN give them the taxpayer money afterwards?

    You know, so they don't just pocket it and then shrug when we ask, "Hey, where's that fiber-to-the-home stuff we gave you all that money to build?" like they did back in the 90s.

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    -1

    So...

    They want to create a ubiquitous and indispensable utility and then under ACTA they also want to be able to cut you off from it without warrant, notice or probable cause. Interesting. The insanity is easy to recognize it you just substitute "water" or "electricity" for "broadband".

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007

    -5

    Flawed concept...

    Yes, after letting all these years of letting the private sector do the heavy lifting and with them having done a darn good job of it, let's hand the whole thing over to the people who run the Post Office to speed things up! That's bound to work. Just like the Post Office is faster than the FedEx, UPS and DHL. On, and isn't the post off also planning to cut back to five days a week delivery and don't they have the largest work-fare payroll on the planet? If we want faster internet, letting the government take over sure isn't the solution. If we want 5-day a week internet, with surly service, lost mail, opened mail, and price increases every year on every e-mail, then we want government internet.

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