FCC Readies ‘Broadband Plan’

The Federal Communications Commission’s plan to make the Internet the dominant medium in America by connecting the nation with high-speed, affordable broadband Web access is ready to be delivered to Congress and the public Tuesday.

The plan, titled “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan,” is a self-described “ambitious agenda for connecting all corners of the nation while transforming the economy and society with the communications network of the future, robust, affordable Internet,” the FCC said in a March 15 statement.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandated the plan in February 2009.

In the 10-year plan, the FCC makes recommendations for advancing broadband Internet. About half of the recommendations are for the FCC, while the remainder concerns the executive branch, Congress and state and local governments. 

Underlying the plan’s recommendations is the assumption that while broadband access and use have increased over the past decade, the U.S. — lagging other countries — needs do to more. According to the FCC’s estimates, nearly 100 million households lack broadband; and 14 million do not have access to broadband even if they wanted it.

“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 Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC. “It’s an action plan; action is necessary to meet the challenges of global competitiveness, and harness the power of broadband to help address so many vital national issues.”

The plan calls for the government to influence the expansion of broadband in a number of ways, including through policies and reforming laws, allocation and management of spectrum and education and incentives.

Many parts of the plan will no doubt be seen as controversial. Broadcasters are already pushing back on the FCC’s suggestion that the U.S. should reclaim some of the broadcast spectrum via a voluntary auction.