FCC outlines ambitious National Broadband Plan

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has outlined an “ambitious” national plan which envisions the US as hosting the world’s largest market of high-speed broadband users.

“[The] ‘100 Squared’ initiative – 100 million households at 100 megabits per second – [will] unleash American ingenuity and ensure that businesses, large and small, are created here, move here, and stay here,” explained Genachowski.

“And we should stretch beyond 100 megabits. The US should lead the world in ultra-high-speed broadband testbeds as fast, or faster, than anywhere in the world.”

According to Genachowski, the US would also commit itself to “leading the world” in mobile broadband.

“It is growing clearer every day that broadband is the future of mobile and mobile is the future of broadband. We need to capture that future and its benefits here in the United States.

“But it is not enough, important as it is, to have networks unsurpassed in their power to drive investment and innovation. We must also lead the world in inclusion. And unrivaled opportunity means that every American must have access to broadband at a speed sufficient for meaningful use, no matter where they live or how much money they make.”

However, Genachowski sounded a more somber note when he conceded that the US broadband ecosystem was not nearly as “robust” as it needed to be.

“Right now, the vast majority of Americans don’t have broadband fast enough to take advantage of remote video learning or diagnostics. Right now, roughly 14 million Americans do not even have access to broadband. Right now, more than 100 million Americans that could and should have broadband don’t have it,” acknowledged Genachowski.

“Because they can’t afford broadband, don’t know how to use it, or aren’t aware of its potential benefits. That’s an adoption rate of roughly 65 percent of US households, compared with 88 percent adoption in Singapore, and 95 percent adoption in South Korea. The US adoption rate is even lower than 65 percent among low-income, minority, rural, tribal, and disabled households.”

Genachowski also noted that the National Broadband Plan would set the Federal Government on a course for a “once-in-a-generation transformation” of the Universal Service Fund – by cutting waste, driving efficiencies, and “converting it over time” to broadband support.

“There is an enormous amount of work to be done. That is why this plan is a strategic plan –  a blueprint to be reviewed and revised in light of experience and growing knowledge. But it will chart a clear path forward. And if we do not seize the moment, I fear for the opportunity we will have lost,” he added.