FCC Seeks Feedback on Broadband Economic Impact

WASHINGTON:The Federal Communications Commission is now soliciting information on the potential economic impact of a nationwide broadband plan. The commission put forth a list of questions aimed at businesses, nonprofits and economic development entities. The feedback will be combined with the FCC’s existing dockets on its broadband plan, due to Congress in February. The crux of the plan is to disseminate broadband access throughout the country, particularly in rural areas that may not have it now.

Comments are sought, for example, on how libraries and other public centers are used for broadband access, including the current rate of availability at libraries, community colleges, unemployment offices and other public hubs. Several questions are directed specifically at businesses, such as what type of services are most often used, e.g., cable modems, DSL, satellite, FTTx, fixed wireless or DIA, and if mobile wireless would be a “reasonable alternative.” The FCC also wants to know what key applications are most critical to business productivity, and what type of bitrates are necessary to use them.

Questions aimed at economic development agencies go to the importance of broadband access in attracting new businesses, and therefore, jobs. The FCC seeks to identify the minimum access necessary to attract new businesses and to determine the importance of redundancy. Insights into how broadband could foster federally funded social programs is also sought.

The FCC’s comment document is available on it’s Web site in .pdf form as NBP Public Notice #18. The comment cycle begins Dec. 4. Comments can be filed online, and must refer to GN Docket Nos. 09-47, 09-51 and 09-137, and titled “Comments--NBP Public Notice #18.”