The section of the stimulus package (which today was approved by the House; story here) that pertains to broadband contains a directive to the FCC to formulate a broadband policy within a year of the bill’s enactment. The directives in the bill contain language that provide the clearest outline yet of how very ambitious the nation’s first formal broadband policy might turn out to be.
The directives in the bill contain language that provides the clearest outline yet of how very ambitious the nation’s first formal broadband policy might turn out to be.
The text of the bill directs the FCC to submit to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, a report containing a broadband plan that “shall seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability and shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal.”
The FCC report is to include:
- An analysis of the most efficient mechanisms for ensuring broadband access
- A strategy for achieving affordability and maximum utilization of broadband
- An evaluation of the status of broadband deployment
- A plan for use of broadband infrastructure and services “in advancing 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 and growth, and other national purposes
Analyst Craig Settles, who specializes in broadband issues, said it is a big plus that the bill is technology neutral. “A strong part of the bill is not locking people into a technology.”
In the past, he explained, directives about broadband would often reference wireless, or even Wi-Fi specifically, restricting how companies could implement broadband access when flexibility is required. A solution that’s efficient for an urban market, he explained, may not be efficient for a rural market, and vice versa.
The relevant selection referring to the development of broadband policy starts on page 8 of the text of the bill here.