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Dust-Free Zone

April 16th, 2010 by Phoebe Yang - Senior Advisor to the Chairman on Broadband

A common criticism of major planning documents is that they end up gathering dust on the shelf, being used as door stoppers, getting stuffed in a file cabinet. But one month after its release, the National Broadband Plan is still flying off the shelf rather than gathering dust on it. More important, many of the recommendations have already been implemented or have traction. The FCC itself has implemented over a dozen ideas that were generated or gained momentum during development of the Plan, such as making Internet access in schools funded by the E-rate program available for community use, providing more flexibility in our Rural Health Care Pilot Program, streamlining mobile wireless tower sitings, increasing use of MSS spectrum for terrestrial service, and launching multi-agency efforts with the NTIA on spectrum and the FDA on wireless health care devices.   Outside the FCC, five partnerships or coalitions recommended by the FCC to encourage adoption or increase connectivity are already underway, including project GOAL for senior citizens, the Apps for Inclusion competition co-sponsored with the Knight Foundation, a small business partnership for digital literacy, a collaboration between technology companies and HUD to increase broadband adoption in low income households, and a consortium to upgrade connectivity in 40,000 community anchor institutions. . And at its upcoming meeting on April 21, the Commission will begin tackling six major policy recommendations in the plan, taking on issues like Universal Service Reform, cyber security, deployment of wireless data services, and innovation in television set-top boxes.

All this activity is no accident: the Plan was both visionary and pragmatic. It provides the push and direction needed by the Commission to move on tough issues, such as reforming universal service for broadband. And it identifies and prioritizes ideas for which there is already consensus, such as public-private partnerships for adoption. Plus, the plan itself provided the Commission with tools for action. A sophisticated economic model used to identify areas of the country that lack broadband connections can be a tool for figuring out how to best to provide service. A first-ever consumer survey on adoption has identified segments of the population that need the most help, whether they be people with disabilities, Tribal areas, the elderly or low-income communities.   The Plan’s recognition that competition thrives when consumers have more information has already been translated into action in a variety of tools launched by the Commission to help consumers and the agency assess available and advertised broadband speeds. Our user-friendly spectrum dashboard is already providing the public with more information about spectrum use.

So if you need a door stop, find something else. Chances are if you use the Plan for that, someone will snatch it away before it can gather any dust.

One Response to “Dust-Free Zone”

  1. Marlin Dohlman says:

    Great post, Phoebe.

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