Washington - Feb 16, 2010 - At a meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski offered some insight into the national broadband plan he will submit to congress next month.
The plan is based on developing a meaningful plan for U.S. global leadership in high-speed Internet to create jobs and economic growth; to unleash new waves of innovation and investment; and to improve education, health care, energy efficiency, public safety, and the vibrancy of our democracy.
Genachowski says building a broadband system that connects all Americans is our generation's great infrastructure challenge. He noted that the information and communications technology sector of the American economy now represent a trillion dollars in revenue and 13 percent of the GDP, and in general, the online technology sector has weathered the economic storm better than most industries.
However, the United States has fallen behind in Internet access, ranking our nation 16th in the world. He stated that despite significant private investment and some strong strides over the last decade, America's broadband ecosystem is not nearly as robust as it needs to be, and that roughly 14 million Americans do not even have access to broadband.
Genachowski's plan seeks to ensure universal access and to turn potential access into actual broadband adoption. The plan, called the "100 Squared" initiative, seeks to have 100 million households with access to 100Mb/s broadband by 2020.
The National Broadband Plan makes several recommendations:
A recommendation for improving the E-Rate program, which brought Internet connections to classrooms and libraries.
A recommendation to modernize the FCC's rural telemedicine program to connect additional clinics and break down barriers to a telehealth future.
A recommendation to take the steps necessary to deploy broadband to accelerate a smart grid.
A recommendation to develop public/private partnerships to increase Internet adoption, and ensure that all children can use the Internet proficiently and safely -- with programs like NCTA's new A+ program playing a helpful role.
A recommendation to free a significant amount of spectrum in the years ahead for ample licensed and unlicensed use.
A recommendation for lowering the cost of broadband build-out -- wired and wireless -- through the smart use of government rights of way and conduits.
A recommendation for creating an interoperable public safety network to replace the currently broken system.