Friday, April 10, 2009

FCC Seeking to Improve US Broadband Access & Affordability

Yay! The FCC has issued a document seeking comment to "inform the development of a national broadband plan for our country."

...infrastructure barely hints at the importance of what we are undertaking. High speed ubiquitous broadband can help to restore America's economic well-being and open the doors of opportunity for more Americans, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their lives. It is technology that intersects with just about every great challenge facing our nation. [snip, snip: they survey the development of the internet and communications networks]

While all of these developments are encouraging, we have not yet met the challenge of bringing broadband to everyone. Nor have we managed to keep up with the growing demand for faster and more reliable connections for those who only have basic access now. (snip)Our goal must be for every American citizen and every American business to have access to robust broadband services. Our goal must be for the United States to be a model for the world in creating a partnership between government and industry to ensure that all citizens have access to broadband. But a goal without a plan is just a wish.

6. In the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the "stimulus" legislation, Congress charged the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration with making grants and loans to expand broadband deployment and for other important broadband projects. Congress provided $7.2 billion for this effort -- no small sum. But even this level of funding is insufficient to support nationwide broadband deployment. With this realization, the Recovery Act charges the Commission to create a national broadband plan. By February 17, 2010, the Commission must and will deliver to Congress a national broadband plan that seeks to ensure that every American has access to broadband capability and establishes clear benchmarks for meeting that goal.
There are 60 days to comment. Read the entire Notice by linking above. You may also be interested in a Pew Internet Survey showing that many people who have access to high speed broadband connections do not link to it because of the cost. Access, and quality are only two legs of the necessary plan. Affordability is the third piece. That is one reason that many people are turning to their public libraries in these tough economic times -- access to the Internet through public libraries has been sky-rocketing (See MSNBC video on skyrocketing library use, including internet and computers posted at the American Library Association website here)

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