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Federal Communications Commission



America’s 2020 Broadband Vision

February 17th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

In a month, the Federal Communications Commission will deliver a National Broadband Plan, as it was asked to do by Congress and the President in the Recovery Act. 

This will be a meaningful plan for U.S. global leadership in high-speed Internet to create jobs and spur economic growth; to unleash new waves of innovation and investment; and to improve education, health care, energy efficiency, public safety, and the vibrancy of our democracy. 

I believe this plan is vitally important to America’s future. 

Studies from the Brookings Institute, MIT, the World Bank, and others all tell us the same thing -- that even modest increases in broadband adoption can yield hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Broadband empowers small businesses to compete and grow and will ensure that the jobs and industries of tomorrow are created in the United States. 

The economic benefits of broadband go hand-in-hand with social benefits and the potential for vast improvements in the quality of life for all Americans. 

The National Broadband Plan will describe concrete ways in which broadband can be a part of 21st century solutions to some of our nation’s most pressing challenges, including:

  • Extending the availability and lowering the costs of quality care by putting digital health tools in the hands of doctors and hospitals across the country and removing geographic barriers for patient treatment.  
  • Providing our kids with a world class, 21st century education, connecting them to the global library and giving them the digital skills they need for the future.
  • Making our electric grid smart and efficient and providing Americans with the information they need to make their homes and buildings smarter.  
  • Ensuring that law enforcement officers and first responders across the country have cutting-edge, reliable communications technologies to respond to emergencies efficiently and effectively. 

These are real benefits for real people -- like the unemployed forty-seven-year-old I met in the Bronx who got job training over the Internet to become a telecom technician. And the employees of Blue Valley Meats, in the small town of Diller, Nebraska, which doubled its workforce and saw 40 percent growth by setting up a website and selling its beef online -- once Diller got broadband. 

But right now, we are at a crossroads. For while the United States invented the Internet, when it comes to broadband we are lagging behind where we should be.

Roughly 14 million Americans do not have access to broadband, and more than 100 million Americans who could and should have broadband don’t. That’s an adoption rate of roughly 65 percent of U.S. households, compared with 88 percent adoption in Singapore, and 82 percent adoption in South Korea. The U.S. adoption rate is even lower among low-income, minority, rural, tribal, and disabled households.

This country can and must do better.  In today’s global economy, leading the world in broadband is leading the world. 

This is where the National Broadband Plan comes in.  By setting ambitious goals and laying out proposals to connect all Americans to a world-class broadband infrastructure, we will help secure our country’s global competitiveness for generations to come.

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan will include the following key recommendations:

  • 100 Squared Initiative: 100 million households at a minimum of 100 megabits per second (Mbs) -- the world’s largest market of high-speed broadband users -- to ensure that new businesses are created in America and stay in America.
  • Broadband Testbeds: Encourage the creation of ultra high-speed broadband testbeds as fast, or faster, than any Internet service in the world, so that America is hosting the experiments that produce tomorrow’s ideas and industries.
  • Digital Opportunities: Expand digital opportunities by moving our adoption rates from roughly 65 percent to more than 90 percent and making sure that every child in America is digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school. 

The quantitative and qualitative benefits of these proposals -- and the many others that the FCC’s plan will contain -- are vast.  Connecting the country to higher speeds means more jobs, more innovation, and more economic growth.

The National Broadband Plan will chart a clear path forward -- ensuring that broadband is our enduring engine for creating jobs and growing our economy, for spreading knowledge and enhancing civic engagement, for advancing a healthier, sustainable way of life.

Pursuing the opportunity of universal broadband is, I believe, a universal goal. Our technology future is one that we can -- and must -- create together.

[Cross-Posted on the White House Blog and the FCC Blog.]

22 Responses to “America’s 2020 Broadband Vision”

  1. Print says:

    I concur.

  2. Tempered says:

    This sounds great and just what the country needs. But will part of the plan address the need for widespread, public wireless internet access? With more and more people (like myself) unable to afford the cost of cable tv and dsl/broadband internet, having access to wireless internet allows for me to stay in touch with the world on my small budget. I would love to see many hubs of free wireless access across the country, for whole swathes of the population.

    Thank you.

  3. MikeFM says:

    There is no excuse that we the US have such expensive and slow broadband options in 2010. I am lead developer and manager of a web business and there are many things I could do if bandwidth allowed. Bandwidth is one of the two major limiting factors to new ideas (the other being the limitation of web browsers, primarily Internet Explorer). Our business pays over $1000 a month for a 7Mb fiber line and I pay nearly $100 a month for a 15Mb down / 1.5Mb up line at home. My parents that live in a rural area pay about what I do and get a 768Kb DSL connection that is constantly having serious issues. Other providers I've had called their plans unlimited but then charged $100's of dollars extra a month in hidden overage fees. I still struggle to find affordable data plans for my iPhone, Android, and MiFi devices. Bandwidth is choking America's economy and we need to correct the issue.

    I suggest we change the laws so that telecom companies can no longer block communities from developing their own wired and wireless networks. If telecom companies want to compete let them do so on the quality and price of their service. I personally would like to roll out gigabit Internet within my local community with support for community-level network services. Then require 100Mb per user bandwidth across backbones connecting these community networks and don't allow backbone providers to penalize community networks for connecting or bandwidth charges. Don't allow them to place restrictions on how we can use or share our networks.

    Finally, require them to fulfill the previous requirement of bring 45Mb broadband to every home in America. Rural users should not be denied fair access to communication, education, and entertainment.

    Don't listen to telecoms that want to wiggle out of moving America forward so that they can line their own pockets. Just tell me where to sign to cast my vote in favor of true broadband to every home.

  4. Balaji Ramamurthy says:

    2020 Clear Vision can be reached with that bandwidth which can be opened up when the right system emerges.


    Have Right Fun,

    Balaji Ramamurthy
    650-740-2156
    balaji@ibalaji.org

  5. Lisa M. Snider says:

    Dear Julius, I am a big fan of this. In-fact I just wrote a blog recently that addresses this same topic!

    I have a dream... To be secure within this insecure world. I am a single mother, currently unemployed struggling to secure a new position. I am enrolled to begin pursuing an EMBA from RIT. If it were not for the advancements there is no way this would be possible.

    I fear for those who have "missed the boat" so to speak who are not online. It has become a major form of communication. I imagine a world where WiFi will be available throughout the country in similarity to radio waves.

    Please continue to drive this support to our community. It is no longer a luxury to access the web, it is a necessity. Please comment on my blog: http://lisasnider.blogspot.com/. I will be tweeting, sharing and supporting!

    I firmly believe in your statement: "The economic benefits of broadband go hand-in-hand with social benefits and the potential for vast improvements in the quality of life for all Americans."

  6. Michael F. Ziolkowski says:

    Broadband can unleash the hidden efficiency opportunities of our economy such as encouraging work from home. The labor department cites that 15% of the workforce works from home at least once a week. If we can increase the number and frequency of people working from home than we can save billions in energy, road and bridge infrastructure, and corporate facilities cost making us all more competitive.

    Michael F. Ziolkowski
    State University of New York at Brockport

  7. David Rusin says:


    Mr. Genachowski - we should talk ... or visit my blog ... www.telecomstraightshooter.com ... the bottom line is this - we need policy to attract private capital back into telecoms infrastructure after being burned by bad policy - it can be done without one dime from tax payers.

  8. Guest says:

    Well, I'm wondering when all this comes out. What about the people with disability? There are tons of deaf and hard of hearing folks out there who depend on the internet for communications since they have videophones, cell phones as PAM(phone as modem) and tons of other things. I heard that all companies providing internet and cable plan to put a cap or some kind of limitations of its use? I disagree with that because people who are deaf need internet in order to use their videophones and PAM as well. So these are always on and of course use bandwidth. To start charging for going over a certain the allowable amount for these folks can be very taxing on their budget as some are living on fixed income and living on welfare. There are those who are working but still, being hearing impaired is very expensive. Consider this, I'm told there are no insurance for hearing aids so these folks turn to their states for help but but! If they are over the income threshold, then they must carry the burden and hearing aids are expensive itself and that's not it. They need special doorbells, alarm systems, etc and it's a financial burden on all of them. I hope these cable companies or internet companies don't impose some kind of cap on their usage when they need them the most. Especially in this day and age where we need to be aware of emergencies.

  9. Deborah Doyle says:

    As you dream of "providing our kids with a world class, 21st century education, connecting them to the global library and giving them the digital skills they need for the future," don't forget the brick and mortar public libraries that are the only place many people can access the internet. These important community anchors already exist in our communities. Please ensure your plan strengthens and expands the broadband capacity (wired and wireless) of libraries and you will enhance the economic vitality of their towns and cities. People already use the internet in their libraries to look for and apply for jobs. Leveraging these familiar existing resources should be part of our comprehensive national broadband strategy.

    Deborah Doyle, Vice President
    California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners

  10. Bill Koelzer says:

    It's about time that those who need the Internet most and those in small rural towns, which the big firms are reaching last in order to maximize their profits, such as happens in Midwestern towns like Portland, Michigan, will finally get broadband. Imagine thousands more people employed at home, marketing products to the world themselves, or serving their employers. Think of the efficiency of avoiding the hours a month of commuting time and gasoline expenditure alone. This National Broadband Plan is going to raise all ships and that is what we need...not more Wall Street Greed and Corporate control.

    Bill Koelzer
    Internet Marketing Consultant and Author
    San Clemente, California

  11. pipelines says:

    I think the large telecommunication companies have been abusive to the public for too long, whether it is instantly granting the NSA and/or FBI access to wiretap our communications, being rude on the phone or continuing to charge us even though no service has been provided and then sending us to collections! In addition, large telecom companies internet service is constantly unstable blaming technical difficulties on server issues. If servers are having all the issues then they should not be on the market! I do not believe any of their smoke. I do believe that stable broadband access will allow customers to access my website and grow my business rather than block my progress. I have had issues with education too where I take online classes and am constantly having internet issues that has caused grade appeals for late work due to technical difficulties or server issues. Blah! It is time to grow our economy! Do not give the broadband power to the large telecom companies and open up our technological infrastructure. Thank you.

  12. Guest says:

    And what about the IP address shortage? Aren't we running out of IP the 4.3 billion IP addresses
    the world has to work with?

    You can have the largest pipes in the world, but if there isn't any water in the reservoir at the
    starting end what is the point? Shouldn't we deal with that a bit too and encourage the adoption
    of new technologies that provide both the USA and the world with more IP addresses?

  13. Guest says:

    Regarding Point #4:

    >>> Ensuring that law enforcement officers and first responders across the country have cutting-edge, reliable communications technologies to respond to emergencies efficiently and effectively.

    Wouldn't you want this advanced, reliable and cutting-edge now in place?

    An example of MetroNet6 network is as follows. In a U.S. city or town the State Police, Fireman, Hospital 911 Personnel, Local Police, and any other required Local Authorities would have Handheld Devices that would have their own Metropolitan Network (MetroNet6) for Voice, Video, Graphics, Intelligence, Medical, and other forms of data through multimedia communications 24x7x365. This MetroNet6 would emulate a command and control center, using Moonv6 www.moonv6.org, over the Internet to an emulated National Homeland Security Office securely for communications updates. The MetroNet6 would support both wireless and wireline technology as the physical medium for communications and the integration of wireless and wireline so either can be used on the MetroNet6. The MetroNet6 would support the ability for a command center to be established in an Ad Hoc manner to communicate with the MetroNet6 Homeland Security force and emulated National Homeland Security Office using wireless or wireline communications. In addition, the MetroNet6 over time should be able to add additional Ad Hoc Sub-Networks in as required such as the emulated National Guard, Air Command, or other U.S. Agencies that must connect to the MetroNet6 during an urban 911 disaster like 9/11, Tsunami, Katrina, Haiti, etc.

    Geof Lambert
    IPv6 Forum
    North American IPv6 Task Force
    California IPv6 Task Force
    www.facebook.com/geoflambert

  14. arclight says:

    Obviously there's plenty to like about this, but what's it going to cost, and who will pay? Considering that there's no business model that supports this, it will obviously be done with tax dollars. How will that be administered to ensure that the disadvantaged are really taken care of?

    Also, I'm sure you are thinking that spectrum is a big part of this. Will your FCC, unlike previous FCC leadership, actually check the physics of sharing spectrum and not just blithely accept the promises of manufacturers? They exist to benefit their shareholders, and civic responsiblity takes a distant second place to that imperative. It's up to your Office of Engineering and Technology to do the rigorous analysis to ensure that there's a firm mathematical and physics-based foundation for spectrum sharing, followed by equally rigorous testing that checks the analysis. Do you and your fellow Commissioners understand this??? Will you ask for peer review of that analysis and testing across the engineering community, so that if there are flaws in the analysis or testing that they can be uncovered and dealt with BEFORE big plans are executed? We cannot afford another 800 MHz debacle, and using regulations to provide "fig leaf" cover for flawed or missing analysis is at the very least unethical and un-citizen-like.

    I am definitely supportive of this effort; however, I'd really like to see something other than political nonsense and salesman engineering. Our country, its people, and their tax resources should rate better. If your Congressional masters or their campaign contributors don't understand that, please have the courage to tell them so. We'll be watching, and if you need assistance in setting them straight we'll chime in.

  15. Geek-in-the-Country says:

    I live in a farming area that has no access to broadband. Dial-up is at 21K maximum because the phone lines are so antiquated. No one uses it. A 10 minute drive takes me into town where broadband is readily available. It is only the rural folk: farmers, horse trainers and farriers, ranchers and other workers who don't have access. It's truly unfortunate, since I live 50 minutes from a major city and 52 minutes from one of the largest software development companies in the world.

    The rural economy is stunted due to its lack of access. Urban and suburban communities never learn of all the good work being done in the countryside. They lose direct access to healthy food and rural recreation. We're practically living is different worlds.

    I write about this in my blog: http://rural-geek.livejournal.com/

    I really hope this initiative is successful. We are depending on it. The sooner we have access, the better for everyone.

  16. Michael Ponder Jr says:

    I live in a rural area that could use broadband, and a lot of people around me are buying computers now, but with no access to real broadband those computers will be pretty useless..

    Some people are turning to satellite but then complaining when they are shut off, Hughes net for instance i feel should be done away with.

    I do not think people should be punished for a service they pay for to use by having it shut off on them just cause they used it, it's not fare and it is not right.

    Just it would be dumb if someone was told, no you can not drink anymore water, one glass is all you get for today, you only get one shower this week to, oh and by the way you can only watch TV for 30 minutes today, now it is being turned off and you can not watch more, but everyday more and more internet service providers want to shut people off and say they are using too much, rather then using a lot of the money they even make from people to strengthen their networks.
    But rather we get providers crying out"wahhhh, they are crashing our networks, wahhh".

    I hope we get real broadband out here soon where i live, we need it, people here are pretty dumb and the internet would help them wise up a lot and even culture them quite a bit i belieave.

    I am looking forward to finaly getting high speed here.

  17. Landon Hulet says:

    Thank you, Julius Genachowski. America worships you.

    @Michael Ponder Jr
    Check out openinternet.gov to complain about the ever increasing freedoms on the internet being removed by ISPs

    @Guest
    I am hoping that 2020 means when the project will be finished. I hope.

    @Geek-in-the-country
    I don't think that the FCC is going to be able to get you internet in your area. Note that the plan is for only 1/3 of the US population. This will probably be a urban area project. However, I feel the same way as you since I live outside of a city and have no cable or DSL. Have you ever tried WISPs or cellular internet?

    @The other Guest
    Don't worry about IP shortages. Ever heard of IPv6? We will likely never run our now.

  18. Guest says:

    i hope the 2020 in your title does not mean we have to wait til 2020 to see these goals realized.

  19. Daniel Tetrault says:

    I too am very supportive of this initiative! I think broadband should be made more available first and foremost for the pure benefit of communication amongst residence and jobs being secondary.

    Daniel.

  20. Guest Gadema Quoquoi says:

    In addition to the Battle over Spectrum Availability Issues, I believe we should also, Focus our Nationwide Broadband Deployment Plan, on Building Smart/Intelligent INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES for: Smart Transportation Systems, Smart Grids, "BROADBAND", and Healthcare IT, Law Enforcement, etc.

    We can start by, Deploying a pure Packet-based, All Optical/IP, Multi-Service National "TRANSPORT" Network Infrastructure, using Optical Ethnernet throughout this National "NETWORK OF NETWORKS." This will "CONNECT" All Optical Islands, Nationwide.

    The Funding for this "Network of Networks", should be a 50/50 Joint Venture between the Federal Government and the Private Sector (i, e, Cost may be $300 Billions, Federal $150B, and Private Sector $150B).

    The Investment in this "Network of Networks", in addition to New Jobs Creation and Economic Recovery, can also SERVE as a BUSINESS DRIVER for: e-Commerce, e-Education, Law Enforcement, e-Healthcare, Energy Systems, Transportation Systems, Social Networking, Etnertainment, etc.

    Please See: www.gkquoquoi.blogspot.com for NHIN Summary Deployment Plan.

    Gadema Korboi Quoquoi
    President & CEO
    COMPULINE INTERNATIONAL, INC.

  21. Lorenzo Orlando Caum says:

    Broadband needs to be accessible everywhere.

    http://lorenzocaum.com

  22. April miller says:

    nice info its usefulness and significance is overwhelming the way you covered all the basic necessary information is really impressive good work keep it up. I will come back to see you

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