Federal Communications Commission

Broadband Plan Shaking Up Communications at FCC

September 2nd, 2009 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Julius GenachowskiI had always intended for the FCC's work on the National Broadband Plan to be transparent and open to a wide variety of stakeholders including providers, public interest groups and citizens alike. This effort is too important to leave anyone out.


I am pleased to see that the Commission's work on the plan is already transforming the way we at the agency communicate with the public.  Fittingly, we are using the power of the Internet to boost public participation in the plan through our blog, "Blogband," which is dedicated to the National Broadband Plan. The posts have given us an informal way to keep people up-to-date and engaged in the process. Importantly, the comments back have also been a catalyst for new thinking and creative solutions.


We're also using the Internet to give more people greater access to our workshops here at the Commission. In addition to the over 1,100 people who've so far attended the workshops in person, over 5,000 people have registered to view and participate in the workshops online.  The workshops represent an unparalleled level of openness and participation in the Commission's work.


Inside the agency, we are hard at work processing the public input we are getting from our many workshops. The hours of discussion by workshop participants, along with comments that have already been filed at the FCC, have prompted us to draft new Public Notices about the plan. Over the coming weeks, you will see several of them issued. The new comments we receive will be filed in the official record for the plan. And of course, the transcripts that are being made of each workshop will also be part of the record.


So, thank you for your comments to date and please keep them coming in the weeks ahead!

25 Responses to “Broadband Plan Shaking Up Communications at FCC”

  1. gr8nash says:

    I also thank you for offering a public blog to track your progress. I hope we define broadband as higher the .25Mb. We would lose our chance to truly make a change. If we cant pass reform when many or most of the truly rural people have very little access to effective email, how would we make changes when we are given slow connections that support only 20 year old technology without web 2.0 speeds. Critics in my own Republican party seem to have no understanding of the importance of America continuing to lead the web revolution. I see that the new administration has a clear view of the importance of this fact. I also tell everyone who will listen why network Infrastructure is important in America.

  2. David Soderquist says:

    Dear Mr. Chairman,

    I am a retired school district technology director and taught network, programming, and several applications classes over the year. When I retired I moved from a larger metropolitian area to a northern forest/rural area. My only options (like millions of other rural Americans) is either dial-up or satellite ISP access for the Internet. Having been "spoiled" by cable based broadband I have limited access to the wealth of the Internet that I once enjoyed.

    My question/comment is when will the federal government either independently or via state governments accomplish true broadband access to the millions of Americans who are religated to second class Internet status? It seems most industrialized and modern countries are well beyond where the US is in providing adequate and appropriate Internet access for their citizens. We seem to be "stuck" in a competive market mindset that does not appreciate the importance of adequate Internet access for those of us living outside of our cities. We are not asking for "free" services: we are more than happy to pay the current rates for access, but the infrastructure is not available to support our needs. Corporate response is and has been that the population densities are too low in rural areas to make it cost affective to invest in the needed infrastructure. It would seem that the benefits far outway the obstacles to subsidize the needed infrastructure and allow us to join the 21st century technology standards present in urban areas.

  3. Ed Bradford says:

    Only 168 days left before you have to show your plan. Let me see what you have. By now you should have a good outline, most sections well fleshed in and be working on remaining details. Please send me a copy for markup and I'll be happy to help.

    Your report should have: 1. A one page Executive summary 2. The Problem Statement - describe it in a number of ways and give examples that communicate the issues. 3. Possible Solutions - You must list all possible solutions. A short description of how each solution would work and an unbiased list of pro's and con's should be available for each. 4. Your current choice for the number 1 plan for Broadband and how you will spend $2.7 Billion (or whatever the "stimulus" amount is). You must also present your reasons for this choice. You can also mention how you would accommodate additional "issues" deemed important by people outside the FCC. In other words, if this is going to be open government you intention would be to reach reasonable consensus on a solution, right?

    I suggest with 168 days left: Oct 1 you put the first preliminary report on line and solicit comments. Dec 1 you put the first revised report on line and solicit comments. Jan 10 you put the final preliminary report on line and solicit comments. and Feb 15 you release your report and solicit comments.

    On Feb 16 you schedule "Broadband 2.0" of this document for Feb 2011 and start the process all over again. This time you integrate feedback from the released document and new information.

    You are working on a schedule like this aren't you?

  4. Marc Hussein Matheson says:

    Thank you, Mr Genachowski, for your efforts in making transparent, open and receptive to ordinary citizens the process and policy-making of the public airwaves and Internet. For too long, for-profit corporations have held sway in the halls of the FCC, shadowing and often eclipse the public voice and interests. Like healthcare, a free flow of information and communication is a human right, not a privilege. Thank you for moving America forward again in the direction of a democratically informed and participatory citizenship!

  5. arclight says:

    Mr. Chairman: I wish you all success in your new position. It's not an easy one to hold...that much is obvious from past dealings with the FCC.

    The laws of physics are at the heart of more of the FCC's issues than many other Federal organizations. Those laws are not subject to Congressional oversight, Executive orders, or Judicial review. As the Chairman, one of your thankless tasks is to continue to point this out to your staff, the petitioners to the FCC, and above all the Congressional leadership. My hope for you is that you embrace this role and find ways to insist that your staff "get the science right" even if some political force or other does not get what it wants. If you do this, you will leave behind a legacy of integrity that will remain long after the decisions your Commission reaches have moved into the footnotes of history.

    One way you can do this is insist, on every question before the Commission that has anything to do with the laws of physics, that your engineers (a) do complete math analyses (including showing all assumptions and the basis for those assumptions), and (b) publish those analyses for peer review and correction BEFORE any decisions are made based on them. That's the way real science and engineering is done. It will also help prevent the FCC from setting policy that is physically impossible or unrealistic and therefore impossible to successfully implement. Finally, it will show the world that the FCC is really committed to "getting the science right" in its dealings with the nation, rather than just talking a good game.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment in this way.

  6. Arturo Bandini says:

    Why is the FCC censoring this blog? I posted a comment yesterday that abides by the moderation policy, yet it has not been posted. A follow-up comment asking why the first post was not published was also deep-sixed.

    I'll ask again Mr. Chairman, are you pleased with the pro-industry nature of the workshops panelists? Will you require your staff to ever ask these panelists to disclose their financial ties to industry? Are all your taskforce team members free of financial conflicts of interest? If you answer yes to the last question, how do you justify the hiring of Scott Wallsten? Why has Wallsten's hiring not been announced by the FCC?

  7. K Sawyer says:

    It is crucially important to define "broadband" by its speed, not the applications. The NCTA, Comcast, and AT&T do not want to spend the resources required for true broadband, but want to reap the rewards of using the label (and the government contracts that come with it). Please do not give in to their wishes. Revert to one of the FCC's previous definition of broadband: a minimum of 768kbps or 1.5Mbps down, and a minimum of 200kbps up. Ars Technica has an informative summary of the situation, as do various news sources like Reuters and dslreports. Readers, please comment on the FCC docket at 09-51.

  8. Mike H. says:

    These blogs are a poor way of communicating policy-what ever happen to a simple press release? The White House website is incredibly confusing as our most of the agencies. These blogs seem to be blurring the line between propaganda and facts-way too cute for me.

  9. Mike H. says:

    Twitter twitter tweet tweet-see the the government employee working hard for the American people gee golly.

  10. MLent says:

    Mr. Chairman, Thank you for your openness. Here's some goals I would like to see the FCC set for broadband.

    1. The U.S. should have the fasted broadband access in the world. Setting a minimum goal of 100 Mps would encourage competition and new businesses. 2. Broadband usage in the U.S. must not be capped. Unlimited broadband creates new business opportunities. 3. The Internet must remain neutral to the content flowing through it. 4. WiMax needs to be implemented along with other broadband initiatives. 5. The U.S. should have the least expensive broadband access in the world. 6. U.S. broadband users must have their privacy protected.

    If existing broadband providers can't meet these goals, it may be time to open up broadband delivery competition to other providers, perhaps from Korea and Japan.

    Please do not permit existing broadband providers to dictate the future of broadband in America. Listen to the people and use the many examples of faster and cheaper broadband access in the world guide your decisions.

  11. Press to Digitate says:

    Mr. Genachowski,

    Its not the bandwidth between the Internet and the home that you should be focusing on. Its the emerging new generation of Brain/Computer Interface ("BCI") devices and their rapidly evolving applications that will dominate the future of telecommunications. Over the last year, entry-level BCI consumer electronics have gone from $300 to $50; in two Moore Doublings, they will be Full Duplex and High Fidelity. It is absolutely inevitable that BCI will replace not only the joystick, mouse, and keyboard (as it can do today), but also the cellphone, monitor, television, etc., to become the universal interface between humans and the Digital Environment. The implications of this are more profound than the original advent of Telegraphy, Radio, Television, or the Internet, since it will connect directly into the human brain.

    Thus far, NO research has been performed on the immediate or long term safety implications of this emerging technology, and yet it is poised to burst onto the scene more dramatically and pervasively than the iPod, iPhone, or Wii did in their moments of glory. Given that the four billion people now carrying cellphones will likely upgrade to BCI-based units within a decade, and that greater-than-human-scale Artificial General Intelligence will likely instantiate before then, you have a profoundly dangerous future in your hands, which the FCC is almost exclusively empowered to manage.

    Obviously, BCI networking will have serious impacts on bandwidth allocation. That fact alone gives you carte-blanche to study the hell out of this technology. The classic film "Brainstorm" is a valuable introduction to the subject, albeit from the perspective of the pre-digital era.

    You might strongly consider initiating a joint undertaking with the FDA to pro-actively investigate the ramifications of Full Duplex/High Fidelity Brain/Computer Interface technology, BEFORE it hits the market, rather than after, when it might be too late to take any meaningful corrective action. All it will take is "One Idiot Grad Student", jacking-in to the Machine Intelligence (a/k/a "Strong A.I."), to leave behind the carnage of a 'hacked' humanity, and a civilization in ruins. Two or three Moore Doublings is not much time for the FCC to wake up to the onrush of the impending technological Singularity. You've only got one chance to get this right.

    Please dont blow it.

  12. Leon says:

    I am a 41 y/o worked from age 15 till 35 when I went on SSDI. The last five years before I went on SSDI I worked in IT though I had fallen in love with computers back in 1979 as a child when I first met the Apple ][+ computer.

    I have learned in the last 6 years to make from scratch my own food, use skype for my phone service and watch free shows and Video and audio podcast through iTunes and buy season passes for the shows I watch via the internet and use Netflix to stream movies to my house all to cut costs so I can have a place to live, food, do basic day to day things and survive on the monthly income I receive from SSDI.

    Comcast ect just for basic broadband internet want $52.00 not including applicable taxes but then the rep says you can get internet for $29.99 a month if you bundle on another service.. well great when you bundle on another service well yes you get your internet for $29.99 but your bill before taxes is now higher than your internet alone before taxes and I don't need a phone or TV.

    So I can think outside the box and make things happen for me as Comcast keeps raising their prices up and up and up and up..

    So when is the FCC going to hand out two Dixie cups and a long piece of thread for those of use who are being pushed out of the internet market by companies like Comcast?

  13. Eugene Octave Sykes says:

    Dear Mr. Chairman,

    Thank you for taking the time to write here. Direct public interaction is a refreshing change -- but not if it is superficial.

    At what point will you stop issuing redundant public notices, and actually do something? You recently asked for the public to define broadband, something you already asked twice in the past six months. Why was another notice needed, and will you explain why these forthcoming notices are needed?

    At this point, it appears you and your FCC are content to noodle around the big problems and questions. While that may not be the reality, it is the appearance. You are quickly becoming the "NOI Commission."

    We need decisive leadership. Show us your hand.

  14. Arturo Bandini says:

    "I had always intended for the FCC's work on the National Broadband Plan to be transparent and open to a wide variety of stakeholders including providers, public interest groups and citizens alike. This effort is too important to leave anyone out."

    Really? Are you then disappointed in the way your staff ran these workshops? How can you account for the wildly lopsided nature of the FCC workshops? It's an industry-shill fest. Will you finally ask panelists to disclose their financial ties to industry? And how in the world can you justify hiring industry-funded economist Scott Walsten to work on the national broadband plan? Not only is his salary currently paid by incumbents, he has been one of the most vocal opponents of any FCC intervention in the broadband market?

    Is this the "change" Obama promised?

  15. Guest says:

    Are you also going to offer transcripts of your meetings behind closed doors with telecom/cable lobbyists?

  16. Lisa says:

    Exactly who will be in control of this 'broadband'? Will the FCC control the content that is allowed across the broadband? Will the FCC decide when it will be shut down, due to 'emergency situations'? I smell a rat...

  17. Carolyn Troiano, Chesterfield, VA says:

    I agree with Mr. Sykes. Based on your note and what I found on the White House site, I can't identify any specific problem or action you are taking. You have obviously graduated from the Obama School of Broadcasting, where you learn to say nothing eloquently, although I would even dispute the last part. I, for one, am not in a trance over the Messiah or his message.

    My major concern is to keep speech FREE and not allow any interference by government. Again, based on your note, I can't tell what you are up to, and my cynical mind (yes, I'm an American and know not to trust anyone in politics or government) tells me this is somehow going in the wrong direction.

    It's about time Obama and all of you in the administration start listening to Americans and start reading your history books, including the Constitution and biographies of our Founding Fathers. This nation is not going to be changed into a socialist republic, and I am not going to forfeit my right to free speech.

    America is watching!

    Carolyn Troiano

  18. Glenn Coble says:

    Please don't allow the big money boys buy you off like they did radio and television. If this government is concerned about local community interest they need to stay away from big money. Ask big money what they want and do the opposite. Clear Channel and the other huge broadcasters have distroyed any local content. A few weeks back we had a major weather problem. I turned on the local Clear Channel station to find out that it was partly cloudy. When I called the station no one was home but the computer.

  19. Guest says:

    Thank you for posting this. I understand you just started a month ago the job so welcome. I really and truly hope you can make some significant changes in your new position. We have seen far too much consolidation of media power and the results have been terrible for the democratic process. The airwaves are a public trust and we would like to see local ownership restored. In regards to broadband, I haven't met anyone who doesn't want to see our internet infrastructure upgraded to be on par with Europe and Japan. We're way behind. Let's get going.

    Thanks for putting up this site. We look forward to a new FCC.

  20. Wayne says:

    Mr. Chairman, I really don't see the need in the FCC gaining the power to shut the internet down in case of emergency? This is when you would want it to be up to warn the people not cut them off from it. Obama is trying to grow the government too big to fast. He thinks that the faster he moves bills through the more power over our lives he can control. I have a question for you Mr. Chairman, have you ever thought about what shape this country will be in, in three more years if Obama gets his way with all his legislation's? Big government is not needed in the cyber world. There is too much big government in other things that need to be backed off and let the free market fix the problems. In my opinion the FCC does not need this much power because it could lead to losing our freedom of speech, and the wouldn't be very healthy!

    Wayne form Texas

  21. Guest says:

    To solve Leon's problem, we need a Lifeline discount for broadband service and a requirement that Comcast and others deliver a minimal stand-alone broadband offering that enables folks like Leon to access the broadband services he needs.

  22. Guest says:

    In my area of rural Tennessee, there are no providers who are willing to extend their broadband or Television service to cover my address even though it is available on both ends of the road I live on. This makes it very hard. I can not watch city or county meetings since these are broadcast only on Comcast connections. I do have dial-up but it is so slow. I also have satalite TV but in the event of sevier weather the signal is lost, not good in cases of tornados. There was an online calss that I wanted to register for - but was told it would be hard using a regular dial-up connection. In the time it takes my children to look up facts for class assignments they could almost hand write an entire volumn of a research book. I have had engineers from broadband providers to look at extending their services and was told that is was not cost effective since there were not 25 homes within a one mile stretch of road. I do not have the option of getting discounts by bundeling packages. There was a time I felt sorry for families that didn't have a computer, now I feel bad for the ones that don't have the option to get faster connections.

  23. Broadband in Australia says:

    Australian Government announced in April that it will build a national fibre-to-the-home broadband network up to "100 times faster" than current speeds. Is National Broadband Plan something similar in the US?

  24. Maxell Rashel says:

    I realluy recognize the FCC's work on the National Broadband Plan to be transparent and open to a wide variety of stakeholders including providers, public welfare groups and citizens alike. This effort is too important to leave anyone out.

  25. Guest says:

    I and my neighbors remain without DSL or cable broadband service, despite an FCC requirement for AT&T to provide that service to rural areas of 17 states formerly served by Bellsouth. This was part of the FCC AT&T/Bellsouth merger approval, and was to have been completed by summer of 2006!

    They simply blew it off. Those few of us who can get a wireless signal pay high fees and endure bandwidth caps to get some sort of broadband service for our fixed locations (homes). Please consider enforcing that already existing provision, which would not cost taxpayers a dime and would bring broadband service to millions.

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