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As part of the 2008 economic stimulus bill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was given the responsibility of developing a “National Broadband Plan” (NBP). The resulting 376 page document lays a good foundation to promote competition, promote deployment, and try some courageous, novel and controversial things to make broadband infrastructure available to everyone.
Here’s a quick rundown of what the National Broadband Plan does:
Competition. The Plan focuses on improving wholesale competition through special access reform and a general review of wholesale policies. This potentially includes requiring telecommunication companies to make copper loops available to rivals instead of “retiring” them after a fiber build.
- It provides recommended solutions to video device compatibility—the idea that consumers should be able to access the vide content they pay for on any device.
- It recognizes privacy, disclosure, and consumer protection as key elements of competition policy.
- It makes a major advance in policy by acknowledging the vital role of unlicensed spectrum as beneficial to competition.
Deployment. The Plan recommends USF Reform to promote broadband build out, access, and adoption.
- It recognizes the status of Native Americans as sovereign tribes with unique needs.
- It is solid on adoption, civic engagement, and all that other good stuff the statute actually tells the FCC to develop for the Plan.
- It is a good start on benchmarks and data collection.
- It allows local governments to provide broadband services.
Public Knowledge’s Position
Broadband has become a necessity for using the Internet effectively for social, political, and cultural engagement, participating in the economy, innovation, and the free flow of information.
The National Broadband Plan is not perfect, but it is a strong foundation for building a better broadband future. Fostering innovation and investment in broadband infrastructure—both wireless and wireline—is absolutely crucial to improving the state of broadband in America.
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