Commentary

FCC Broadband Blueprint Underwhelms

The Federal Communications Commission still has 62 days to present Congress with a national broadband plan, but some consumer advocates say an early report by the agency's task force isn't encouraging.

This week, FCC staff who are helping to develop the plan issued an interim report that discussed matters like allocating spectrum for broadband, giving tax breaks to employers who subsidize broadband and reforming the government-run Universal Service Fund.

But the plan is drawing criticism for what it lacks: a call to require networks to allow their lines to be used by competitors, and a suggestion for both wholesale and retail carriers.

"At a time when U.S. standing in the world is rapidly falling in broadband penetration and adoption, and when bold plans are called for, the Commission appears to be satisfied with taking incremental steps," Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn said in a statement.

Free Press also had some complaints about the interim report. "Without a comprehensive plan to boost competition other policy initiatives fall flat," said Free Press policy director Ben Scott. "The only aggressive proposal on the table is a whether the government should reclaim broadcast television spectrum and repurpose it for broadband. Why are the sacred cows of the telephone, cable, and wireless industry left untouched?"

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1 comment about "FCC Broadband Blueprint Underwhelms ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, December 18, 2009 at 10:20 a.m.

    As I look at the spectrum map I have here, it looks as if the sacred cows, as you call them, are living on the edges, wedged wherever and doing with less, but the TV broadcasters are "living large" -- wasting huge swaths of prime territory with a ridiculous over-the-air scheme, circa 1975, that presumes the public even uses over-the-air signals. Last time i checked, only 11 percent of homes get their TV signals over the air, which is an egregious waste of spectrum. Better to toss them a government-subsidized lifeline service of a couple local channels, delivered by cable or satellite, and then auction off most of the TV space to those entities that really need it, to serve the public. And still have some money to buy off the watchdog groups, who won't take money, but would be thrilled for some hollow public service channels to serve their left-leaning buddies. Maybe ACORN should have its own cable channel?

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