The FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on April 8 as part of a plan to make sure that each and every American has access to broadband communications services.
This action is the result of a Congressional mandate to the commission that was prompted by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the economic stimulus package. The FCC is tasked with delivering a broadband access plan to Congress by Feb. 17, 2010.
The 59 page NOI specifically seeks:
- • Proposals for the most effective and efficient ways to provide broadband access
- • Ideas for making broadband services and infrastructure and services affordable, and for maximizing utilization of this capability
- • An evaluation of the status of broadband deployment, including the progress of related grant programs
- • Proposals for using this connectivity in advancing consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation, and economic growth, and other national purposes
The NOI encourages consumers, industry, businesses of all sizes, nonprofit organizations, the disabled, all levels of government, and "all other interested parties" to respond with ideas and suggestions.
In commenting on the NOI, the FCC’s acting chairman, Michael J. Copps, observed that the action would result in a better understanding of the capabilities and potential of widespread deployment of broadband technology and also how to deal with problems that could arise with such accessibility.
"Our Notice of Inquiry seeks to be open, inclusive, out-reaching and data-hungry," said Copps. "It will go outside Washington, D.C. to rural communities, the inner city and tribal lands. It will go where the facts and the best analysis we can find take it. And it can also consider, in addition to the many opportunity-generating characteristics of broadband, how to deal with any problems, threats or vulnerabilities that seem almost inevitably to accompany new technologies. Ensuring broadband openness, avoiding invasions of people’s privacy, and ensuring cybersecurity are three such challenges that come immediately to mind."