Copps Calls for White Space in Broadband Race

In a Nov. 8 op-ed for The Washington Post, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps decried the state of the nation's broadband deployment, saying it's "so poor that it should be viewed as an outrage by every consumer and businessperson in the country."

Copps said the United States ranked 15th in the world in broadband penetration according to the International Telecommunication Union; factoring in price dropped the country to 21st "right after Estonia," he noted. Lack of competition is the reason, he said.

"Many households are hostage to a single broadband provider, and nearly one-tenth have no broadband provider at all," Copps said. Citing "some experts," he said universal broadband adoption would add $500 billion to the U.S. economy and create 1.2 million jobs.

For starters, he said, the FCC needs to wake up and smell the java.

"Today the agency's reports seem designed mostly to obscure the fact that we are falling behind the rest of the world. The FCC still defines broadband as 200 kbps; assumes that if one person in a ZIP code area has access to broadband, then everyone does; and fails to gather any data on pricing."

The FCC needs to "make new licensed and unlicensed spectrum available; authorize 'smart radios' that use spectrum more efficiently; and do a better job of encouraging 'third pipe' technologies such as wireless and broadband over power lines," he said. "And we should recommend steps to Congress to ensure the FCC's ability to implement long-term solutions."