National Broadband Plan
As early 2009, Congress asked the FCC to create a National Broadband Plan to ensure that every American had access to broadband capability. A summary of that Plan is now available. There are 6 long-term goals:
- At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
- The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
- Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skill to subscribe if they so choose.
- Every American community should have affordable access to at least 1 gigabit per second broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals, and government buildings.
- To ensure the safety of the American people, every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband public safety network.
- To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage real-time energy consumption.
Do you see libraries in there? I do — in at least the first 4. Some other items to be aware of as they starting implementing this plan (which, as they state, could change). The FCC will be:
- looking for more competition in the broadband area. For those of you in areas with no competition, this plan will hopefully provide incentives for other companies to invest in your regions.
- asking for more disclosure from current broadband providers, trying to determine the differences (if any) between what they say they are offering and what is being offered.
- determining/clarifying the mandate that allows state and local entities to bring broadband to an area.
- asking for more of the wireless spectrum back from companies like television networks, hoping to auction it again and provide the possibility of additional innovation in the mobile area.
- looking at the Universal Service Fund to help ensure affordable broadband; whether they will change the existing rules for E-Rate-eligible organizations, it isn’t clear. However, they do want to increase the number and/or types of organizations that pay into the Fund.
- improving connectivity to schools and libraries through the E-Rate program by making it more flexible, efficient, and fostering innovation
- creating a Digital Literacy Corps to be sure that any American who wants to can become digitally literate.
An interesting side note here – the FCC says that this plan can be done with no additional federal funding, assuming they can auction the 500 MHz of wireless spectrum.