• FCC Seeks Comment on How to Develop a National Broadband Plan
  • May 8, 2009 | Authors: Jennifer L. Richter; Carly T. Didden; Jennifer A. Cetta
  • Law Firm: Patton Boggs LLP - Washington Office
  • The FCC released a Notice of Inquiry on April 8th seeking comment on development of a national broadband plan as required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The plan is intended to provide a roadmap to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband. As directed by Congress, the FCC now seeks comment on a number of issues, including the following:

    • how to implement a plan to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband capability, including benchmarks to be established for meeting that goal;
    • how broadband capability should be defined going forward, and what it means to have access to it;
    • the most effective and efficient mechanisms for ensuring broadband access for all;
    • a detailed strategy for achieving affordability of ubiquitous broadband service and maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and service by the public;
    • the status of deployment of broadband service, including progress of projects supported by grants made pursuant to the stimulus bill; and
    • how broadband can be used to advance a variety of policy goals including consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation, economic growth, and other national purposes.

    The FCC also seeks comment on the impact of broadband on its existing universal service programs, and an analysis of the High-Cost, Schools and Libraries, Rural Health Care (including the Rural Health Care Pilot program), and Low-Income programs. The FCC asks how to promote greater deployment of wireless services, including how to eliminate disincentives to serve or invest in rural areas, and to help reduce the costs of market entry, network deployment and continuing operations. The FCC also asks for comment about the value of open networks as an effective and efficient mechanism for ensuring broadband access and how “open” should be defined. The FCC’s report to Congress on developing a national broadband plan is due by February 17, 2010. Comments on the above questions are due June 8, 2009.