FCC to draft broadband outreach plan by Feb 2010

Washington (DC) – The FCC has begun inviting debate on the best way to reach out to low-income and under-served (rural) areas with broadband Internet access. Acting on orders from Congress, the FCC has until February 2010 to craft a strategy regarding “Internet openness, definitions of affordability and what speeds are fast enough,” according to Reuters.

A United Nations report issued earlier this week reports the U.S. has fallen from 11th to 17th in the list of world nations and their “advanced use of information and communications technology”, which takes into consideration such aspects as adoption, speed and general public literacy.

The recent $800 billion stimulus package pushed through by the Obama Administration allows for $7.2 billion in funds for this kind of broadband expansion and growth. As such, the Congress has tasked the FCC to develop a workable plan that will not waste resources.

According to Julius Genachowski, Obama’s pick for FCC chairman, whose nomination is “making its way through Senate confirmation, which is expected”, according to Reuters, the plan will proceed along a parallel track. Stimulus funding must e awarded and dispersed by separate government agencies, and must not include any “counterproductive government mandates”, according to Robert McDowell, the lone Republican on the FCC panel.

According to McDowell, the use of funding for infrastructure expansion and growth “must allow network operators a reasonable opportunity to pay back investors”.

Currently, the FCC defines broadband as anything above 768 kilobits per second, which is about half the standard DSL speed, and well below the average 6 megabits per second cable modem speeds.

See Reuters.