Federal Communications Commission

Hitting the Ground Running on the National Broadband Plan

April 21st, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Almost two weeks ago, the Commission reached a major milestone in moving from planning to action on the National Broadband Plan. On April 8, we released the 2010 Broadband Action Agenda that sets out the timing and purpose of more than 60 concrete Commission proceedings and actions to take place over the next year.

This action agenda is unprecedented in ambition and transparency. And that fits the importance of the Plan’s goals of:
  • Ensuring that the U.S. has a broadband communications infrastructure that enables us to compete globally and remain the world leader in innovation in the 21st century;
  • Ensuring that every American benefits from the economic promise and social opportunity that broadband affords;
  • Ensuring that consumers are protected and empowered, and competition promoted in broadband communications; and
  • Ensuring that, in a world of broadband communications networks, our public safety and homeland security is protected.
Broadband communications is an essential element of job creation and economic growth, and can play a critical role in addressing so many of our major national challenges, from education to health care, energy to public safety.
That’s why we have laid out an aggressive roadmap for executing on key recommendations of the National Broadband Plan.
At today’s monthly Commission meeting, we are initiating six major proceedings across four Bureaus that enable us to move forward on the hard work of implementing the Plan. Specifically:
  • We begin the process of initiating a once-in-a-generation transformation of the Universal Service Fund, in order to connect all Americans to broadband, including Americans who live and work in rural areas. 
  • We also launch two proceedings to lay out a new foundation for fulfilling Congress’s mandate to ensure a competitive marketplace for video navigation devices.
  • In the area of mobile, we revise our voice roaming rules to improve the ability of American consumers to receive voice service whenever and wherever they travel, while also encouraging carriers of all sizes to invest, innovate, and deploy new networks. We also seek comment on a framework for achieving the same goals with respect to mobile broadband services -- perhaps the most exciting and dynamic sector of the communications landscape.
  • And for the safety of all Americans, we launch a proceeding to ensure the survivability of broadband communications infrastructure to protect against terrorist attacks, natural disasters, pandemics, or other major public emergencies. We also consider a voluntary cyber security certification program to help protect our country’s critical communications infrastructure against a new and serious threat.
This is fast action, and of course it’s not our first action. Even before the release of the Plan, we began acting on concrete ideas to address broadband availability, affordability, and adoption for Americans, by:
  • Adopting an order to cut through red tape on tower siting to accelerate mobile broadband build-out;
  • Taking action to increase flexibility of schools receiving E-Rate funding to serve their communities with broadband access; and
  • Enabling build-out of critical healthcare networks by announcing funding commitments and giving participants in the Rural Health Care Pilot Program the additional time needed to select vendors and request commitments.
Since the release of the Plan, we also approved a transaction involving MSS spectrum that opens the door for creation of a new mobile broadband network, billions of dollars of new investment, and thousands of new American jobs. 
As an initial step towards making available 500 megahertz of spectrum for broadband use within 10 years with 300 megahertz for mobile broadband within 5 years, we issued a Public Notice announcing draft rules for WCS-SDARS and inviting public comment. 
In order to improve transparency, information, and competition in the broadband ecosystem, we launched the Consumer Survey and the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Survey to begin to collect better data than is currently available on broadband adoption, usage, attitudes, and needs by consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses.
We also launched a suite of new media tools to improve transparency to the American public, for example by allowing consumers to test the speeds of fixed and mobile broadband connections and to view how spectrum is used via the Commission’s Spectrum Dashboard
I’m also pleased that other agencies and parts of government have begun energetic processes to implement key recommendations of the Plan. I understand they are putting together their own implementation plans arising out of the National Broadband Plan.  
And the broadband team has helped to drive the launch of several important public-private partnerships that will help bring broadband and broadband training to several communities at risk of being left behind: seniors, small businesses, low-income households, and community institutions like schools and clinics. These include initiatives such as:
  • Project GOAL that promotes adoption of broadband services by older adults;
  • The Small Business Coalition that provides digital literacy and training tools to small businesses;
  • “Apps for Inclusion” to develop mobile and online applications that have a social purpose;
  • Digital Adoption Coalition, made up of industry leaders in cable, telecommunications, software, hardware, and other technology players working together with the nonprofit sector to invest in making discounted equipment, service, and training available to lower income urban and rural areas; and
  • A consortium of leading deployment and infrastructure technology companies looking to upgrade institutional connectivity to 40,000 community anchor institutions.
Like the professional process conducted by the broadband team and Commission leading up to the Plan, the processes for our implementation of the Plan will be characterized by transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability. To enable the public to monitor our activities and progress, we have put up a tracking tool on the website.
I believe it is vitally important that the Commission move forward, as it is doing today, to act on the broadband plan’s roadmap to protect America’s global competitiveness and public safety, and help deliver the extraordinary benefits of broadband communications to all Americans. 
Working to make sure that America has world-leading high-speed broadband networks lies at the very core of the FCC’s mission in the 21st century. I believe this essential mission is completely consistent with the Communications Act and I am confident that the Commission has the authority to implement the broadband plan. 
As we evaluate the recent Comcast decision, I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that our actions are rooted in a sound legal foundation, designed to foster investment and innovation, promote competition, and protect and empower consumers.
The magnitude and importance of this agenda, and the workload it creates, require a disciplined management process. The FCC staff have all exemplified the kind of strength and leadership we need to accomplish this vital work together for the country. We stand ready to support their work, and the country appreciates their efforts.


One Response to “Hitting the Ground Running on the National Broadband Plan”

  1. Bobbi Newman says:

    I'm concerned when I look over the Action Agenda and I see no reference to training or eduction or funding for public libraries. While providing broadband access is wonderful and I completely agree with the need for it, what about those who can't afford a computer and the monthly fee? Who will teach people critical thinking and how to create passwords that are less likely to be hacked? You must realize these people are turning to public libraries for access and instruction. Broadband is wonderful but without access its worthless and without instruction it can be dangerous. I would love to hear more about these aspects of the plan.
    Bobbi Newman

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