Federal Communications Commission

Blogband post – Deployment Hearings

August 18th, 2009 by Rob Curtis - Deployment Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative.

Last week, the Omnibus Broadband Initiative held a series of 7 panels addressing issues fundamental to bringing broadband to every American - the technologies that can supply broadband, and how they can and should be deployed.  Our team was thrilled to be able to glean wisdom from world-class experts like Columbia University's Henning Schulzrinne and Sanford Bernstein's Craig Moffett on a wide variety of issues that will impact the ultimate shape of the plan.  In addition, the insightful questions we received from citizens from across the country were a testament to both the importance of getting the plan right and to the remarkable power of broadband itself, since many of them were delivered via the Internet.

From my perspective, several messages rang out loud and clear.  First, panelist after panelist reminded us that getting the broadband plan will not only be a matter of plugging bitrates and marginal costs into a formula to yield a number, but also considering the challenge holistically and attempting to capture the entire economic impact of broadband.  Second, whether your family or small business has "broadband" is not simply a matter of the peak speeds you can attain over your connection, if you currently have one; rather, it incorporates a host of other considerations, like latency and reliability, that impact the performance of applications like VoIP and collaborative office software.   And finally, many of our experts on wireless technology emphasized the importance of spectrum to our national wireless future - both improving the efficiency of existing spectrum and exploring making spectrum available in frequencies currently occupied by other technologies.  Technological efficiency could help free bandwidth for broadband in other pipelines to the home, including coaxial cable, where the conversion to digital cable television could free bandwidth now used for analog cable TV.

As the clock ticks down to the National Broadband Plan, our whole team looks forward to gathering many of your ideas (and your data!) regarding how we can ensure the deployment of a network that meets the needs of all Americans and will enable even more innovative uses of broadband in our shared future. As the billboards say, "watch this space" - there'll be much more to come.

-Rob Deployment Director

14 Responses to “Blogband post – Deployment Hearings”

  1. Bill Dollar says:


    "Our team was thrilled to be able to glean wisdom from world-class experts like Columbia University's Henning Schulzrinne and Sanford Bernstein's Craig Moffett on a wide variety of issues that will impact the ultimate shape of the plan."

    This gives me shivers, FCC. You do know that Craig Moffett is a very highly criticized cable industry advocate, who has made outrageous statements such as "network upgrades are unnecessary", that cable "waisted" the billions it spent on network upgrades, that consumers should be paying more money for wireless data services, and that there is "too much" competition already in our duopoly broadband marketplace.

    FCC, you are really looking like a captured agency. There were ZERO public interest or consumer broadband experts on Moffett's panel. Why is that?

  2. Link Perry says:

    > And finally, many of our experts on wireless technology emphasized the importance of spectrum to > our national wireless future - both improving the efficiency of existing spectrum and exploring > making spectrum available in frequencies currently occupied by other technologies, such as analog > cable television.

    I assume you meant terrestrial television. If this refers to the so-called white-space (unutilized TV channels), then there needs to be an abundance of caution. I currently receive digital TV over-the-air. I'm 65 miles from the Sacramento stations, but I receive them pretty well, with only an occasional drop out. But I don't know if I'd be considered part of those stations' "designated market area". If that criteria (DMA) was used to determine if a channel was "white-space", my TV reception could get clobbered by wireless broadband. I ask you to go gently in preserving the ability to receive terrestrial TV for people like me in far fringe areas.

  3. Mike Kiely says:

    Your post is refreshing. For the UK, which is attempting to define a Broadband plan, I have put some resources on how Broadband could be defined in the manner described above. Perhaps these efforts could be improved further. -

  4. Craig says:

    I live in a town with about 2,000 people. I need broadband for work as I am in IT. I am about a half a mile away from getting cable broadband internet service and the only other option is to pay over a hundred dollars a month for 1.5M speed.

  5. Guest says:

    I am all for national broadband. I would love to have access to high speed internet everywhere when I need it. I don't know how this would work, but it sure would be helpful to a lot of people including us. We are a home based business that many times has events or meetings with clients. Currently when we meet with people we are meeting at places that have free wifi, but we also found out that the wifi some places have is not always reliable or even strong enough through the entire building. If we could have access to broadband everywhere it would open up a lot of possibilities for us.

  6. AB4EJ says:

    My hope is that the plan will be founded on solid science and good engineering. The previous administration never accepted the fact that you can't change the laws of physics through federal legislation; we should now be beyond that kind of thinking. Politics must not be allowed to drive us to a plan that allows significant interference between our broadband provisioning and other services, such as we have seen with some of the BPL deployments. (By the way, thanks for the blog, it is much appreciated).

  7. GoingLikeSixty says:

    Broadband access needs to be treated like infrastructure.

    As with water, sewer, electricity, police and fire protection, it is too important to a community to have it in the hands of private enterprise:

    1. Private enterprise requires an ROI, thus creating the underserved areas.

    2. Spreading the costs among all citizens via taxes lowers the cost to all citizens.

    3. Let communities decide the level of high speed access they desire. If a community is happy with slow-speed (DSL) so be it. But if a community desires the highest speed access, they must pay through higher taxes.

    Access to the web is too important to the future of our nation to leave it in the hands of telecos and cablecos.

    Glasgow, Kentucky is the perfect model for the future --- their municipal utility has been in the cable TV and internet service for a decade or more.)

    (And I HATE the term broadband because it indicates a level of performance that is higher than it actually is... DSL is broadband... Fiber is broadband... but the performance is significantly different. Why isn't this spelled out in the "About Broadband" section. Keeping public ignorant?)

  8. Gregory Kauffman, PA says:

    Internet service should be a regulated public utility.

  9. Guest says:

    "Our team was thrilled to be able to glean wisdom from world-class experts like Columbia University's Henning Schulzrinne and Sanford Bernstein's Craig Moffett on a wide variety of issues..."

    Craig Moffett believes that network upgrades are unnecessary and that consumers should be paying more money for service because his only interest in this whole affair pushing stock (most notably, cable stock). I hope you weren't listening to his "expertise" too hard.

  10. Guest says:

    I believe there is already a fairly good solution available without exposing Americans to higher tax possibilities. I believe satellite broadband will work for almost everyone ... we need to make certain that those who want broadband are the ONLY persons paying for the service.

    That's how it works where I live, and we have several broadband carriers at our door.

  11. James Black W9JDB says:

    I agree with AB4EJ's comment. You can not legislate physics as the previous administration tried to do.

  12. Guest says:

    Most of the world had government-owned telecom providers (PTTs) for most of the 1900s.

    By the 1990s, the resulting networks were technologically-backward and very expensive compared to the networks in the USA, despite far more favorable geography and demographics abroad(particularly in Europe and the developed Asian nations). The greater costs were borne by both governments and consumers, who typically paid per-minute rates many times those we experienced here in the USA.

    The government-owned networks did not allow for cutomer-owned terminal equipment either, and they were also more closed to customer-driven uses (the oppositive of Net Neutrality). Thus, innovation in applications and terminal equipment severely lagged the USA experience as well. This may have had a lot to do with why the Internet evolved more rapidly in the USA.

    The experience with government provision of telecom infrastucture was so harmful to innovation (which is not as important with roads or sewers), that nearly all of the world privatized their telecom networks in the late 1990s (purusant to mutually agreed upon world trade agreements).

    Let's not replicate the failed PTT experience by trying to replace privately owned and managed telecom networks with government owned/managed broadband networks.

  13. Josh in CharlotteNC says:

    A key part in determining which families and small businesses have access to broadband is raw data in the form of granular coverage maps that are transparent, open to public review and confirmation. Providers must not be allowed to claim they serve areas where they will not service some houses or businesses.

    Despite living in the 20th largest city in the country, in a fairly new apartment complex, directly behind one of the largest shopping centers in the city (which is at the intersection of 2 major roads that anyone living in the city could easily name) - I still am limited to a single choice for moderate speed broadband (cable through TimeWarner) with a slow second choice (DSL through BellSouth). Fast speeds are not available here. Wireless broadband can not achieve the speed that wired can, nor is it cost effective with the data caps on any plan offered. Options such as satellite have other problems such as high latency (negatively impacting voice and video services). Yet the area is claimed to have a highly competitive services - an obvious lie when I am stuck in at best a duopoly.

    How can a plan be formulated without detailed information on who has actual availability as opposed to advertised availability?

  14. Tommie in Rural America says:

    I own an ISP in Southern Oregon and Northern California. In the South Oregon community there are 5,00 people. There are 4 ISP in town. 2 wireless,telco and cable.

    I am trying to offer much higher speed. We need 700 mhz to be able to offer the service level necessary. We are not a large company and are not able to bid on the spectrum necessary. There are unlicensed spectrum. It is filling fast and with wireless providers (1 unwilling to co-ordinate frequencies with me) we are somewhat hamstrung. They seem to want to interfere at will.

    I have done both communities without a dime of government funding. Our cost is low to the subscriber.

    Not all ISP's are created the same and not all are greedy fatcats.

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