The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday laid out a rough draft of its national broadband plan after weighing through 66,000 pages of written comments, 27 public notices, 100 items posted on its “blogband” web site, and 700 blog comments posted to the record. The initial outline of the plan to be presented to Congress in February draws sharp criticism for ignoring competition issues involving the duopoly of local cable and telephone companies.
Depending on this vote, this could considerably change how new and current subscribers of newsgroups will access USENET in the United States. A government task force charged with developing a comprehensive national strategy for broadband deployment and adoption today issued its first set of policy recommendations, calling for an overhaul of a federal telephone subsidy program and a revision of the current system of allocating wireless spectrum. The FCC agency is quoted as stating that it is still difficult to answer key questions that must be addressed within two months’ time, or by February 17, 2010. This morning, the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet gathered for a hearing about HR 3019 and HR 3125, two bills that aim to speed up the inventory and re-allocation of spectrum so we can be ready to accommodate the explosive growth of consumer mobile broadband.
“Encouragement of competition will be a guiding principle of the plan, since competition drives innovation and provides consumer choice,” the FCC said in a statement. “Finding ways to better use existing assets, including Universal Service, rights-of-way, spectrum and others, will be essential to the success of the plan. The limited government funding that is available for broadband would be best used when leveraged with private sector investment.”
At its Dec. 16 public meeting, the FCC’s broadband team provided broad strokes on policy for the plan, but provided no hard and fast proposals. FCC officials have been handed the task since early this year as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. So far, the FCC has identified 10 major areas ripe for change: the USF; infrastructure access; spectrum allocations; tribal lands; set-top boxes; consumer information; media; broadband adoption; accessibility for the disabled; and public safety. The past two major spectrum auctions at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission each took more than 10 years from start to finish, Largent told the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. “We simply can’t wait until 2020 or beyond,” he said
The critics — specifically the broadcast industry, as well as service industry and military contractors — did not dismiss the dire need for more commercial spectrum. However, they did present concerns for the next major shift in frequency allocation. There’s a lot at stake for future broadband development, including $7 billion in stimulus money from the federal government. From here until mid-February, The Federal Communications Commission has the time to come up with the ultimate solution on how to build out a national broadband infrastructure. How it will affect USENET as a whole remains to be seen.