Michael Grotticelli /
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
FCC’s Broadband Plan would put United States in the second tier of nations
The FCC’s new National Broadband Plan sets only modest goals for the United States at 4Mb/s universal service by 2020. This has members of Congress asking questions about the competitive goals for U.S. broadband service and how it compares to other countries.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-HI, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, challenged FCC chairman Julius Genachowski about the goals of the plan.
“The National Broadband Plan (NBP) proposes a goal of having 100 million homes subscribed at 100Mb/s by 2020,” he wrote, “while the leading nations already have 100Mb/s fiber-based services at costs of $30 to $40 per month and beginning rollout of 1Gb/s residential services, which the FCC suggests is required only for a single anchor institution in each community by 2020.
This appears to suggest that the United States should accept a 10- to 12-year lag behind the leading nations. What is the FCC’s rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?” Inouye asked.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-AK, also questioned the goal. “Why did the plan settle on the download speed of 4MB by 2020? It seems a bit modest for a goal.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-ND, wants to know why urban areas are targeted with 100Mb/s connections while rural areas look likely to end up with the minimum 4Mb/s. “How will you structure the policies to meet these goals in a way that doesn’t exacerbate the existing digital divide?”
Genachowski recently submitted answers to these questions. “The plan’s targets of 4Mb/s download and 1Mb/s upload [are] aggressive. It is one of the highest universalization targets of any country in the world. Many nations, such as South Korea and Finland, adopted short-term download targets around 1Mb/s,” Genachowski wrote.
“The plan recommends reevaluating the 4Mb/s target every year so this target may rise over time, which will ensure that Americans continue to receive high-quality broadband access at an affordable rate, and that consumers in rural areas will continue to receive broadband service that is reasonably comparable to the service provided in urban areas.”