FCC chief outlines universal broadband proposal

By Lee Kaelin on October 7, 2011, 10:30 AM

The US communications regulator revealed a proposal yesterday for universal broadband coverage by the end of the decade. It is estimated that around 18 million Americans do not have access to broadband where they live or work, despite $4.5 billion in public money being spent each year to subsidize telephone services for rural households.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski proposed the strategy for revamping the subsidy program during a speech yesterday. He acknowledged the existing program was ineffective and broken.

"The costs of this broadband gap are measured in jobs not created, existing job openings not filled and our nation's competitiveness not advanced," Genachowski said.

Earlier in the year, the FCC proposed modernizing the $8 billion universal service fund, currently paid for by fees added to consumers' telephone bills to push forward infrastructure investment and remove inefficiencies in the current program.

This would see the largest program in the universal service fund move towards directly supporting fixed and mobile broadband services, whilst phasing out funding for duplicate services serving the same areas.

Consumers' could begin to see the benefits of the new strategy as soon as early 2012, bringing high speed internet access to hundreds of thousands of homes in the short term. "It will help cut the number of Americans bypassed by broadband by up to one half over the following five years, and it will put us on the path to universal broadband by the end of the decade," Genachowski added.

But not everyone is convinced that the proposed plan is the best way forward. The American Cable Association says they are concerned that phone companies will get "first dibs" on the funding while other broadband providers like cable may have to wait a few years for the option to competitively bid to receive funding support.

"The chairman's plan locks in a sole-source contract worth billions of dollars for over ten years to a handful of incumbent large telecom companies," ACA Chief Executive Matthew Polka commented in response to Genachowski.

Genachowski argued, "a flash-cut to competitive bidding in some parts of the decades-old program risks consumer disruption, build-out delays, and other unintended consequences."

The reform is set for vote at the next FCC meeting on October 27.




User Comments: 7

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Raswan Raswan said:

"But not everyone is convinced that the proposed plan is the best way forward. The American Cable Association says they are concerned that phone companies will get "first dibs" on the funding while other broadband providers like cable may have to wait a few years for the option to competitively bid to receive funding support"

READ: "How come they get to make all the money, and we don't?"

How about you shut your mouth, incumbent large cable company, and quit holding up the process?

motrin said:

can I haz broadband?

I live, in the middle of nowhere

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

raswan said:

How about you shut your mouth, incumbent large cable company, and quit holding up the process?

Agreed wholy. Rising costs to the consumer, the increasing limiting of bandwidth availability and service bubbling are only hurting the United States competitivity in broadband access and available speeds both internationally and domestically. Basically, it means stagnation for profits. =/

Guest said:

If the bib bad cable company wants some money why don't they start installing cable to all those who want it. I have contacted cable and they do not have plans to put cable in my area. I guess a few thousand people is not enough to motivate them.

war59312 said:

What a joke. By broadband they mean a lousy "728kb/s or less" connection.

I don't what my taxes going to that shit. If it were 10mbps or faster than sure.

Guest said:

Universal broadband??

So the USA is gonna pay and subsidise broadband connections all accross the globe!

SWEET! Im totally behind that idea!

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wasn't that big wireless initiative supposed to take care of this, opening up all that vacated bandwidth that analog TV used to occupy for wireless internet connectivity everywhere for everyone? Shouldn't they maybe pump the money into that? Just sayin...

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