Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The United States Federal Communications Commission released a plan to provide broadband Internet access to at least 90% of the American population today, and sent a copy of the plan to Congress, which will consider whether to introduce legislation to enact portions of the proposal. Other parts will be decided on by various government agencies.

The plan is intended to spur adoption of broadband Internet in the US by extending broadband access to areas of the country, such as rural areas, that do not currently have such access, as well as substantially increasing the speed of existing broadband installations. Currently, only around 65% of American households have broadband connectivity; if approved, the new plan would increase that number to 90% by 2020. According to a statement from the FCC, the plan would provide a “foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life.”

Opposition to the plan is largely based on two points, which are cost, estimated be as much as $350 billion, and the effect on current users of airwaves, which new broadband access would use. According to the FCC, the plan would end up being revenue-neutral, thanks to income from the auctioning of airwaves, although in past such auctions revenue has gone to the US government. Separately, the proposal would include some changes to regulations over Internet lines, which are largely opposed by the industry, as well as plans to introduce a new fee for use of the airwaves, which are currently untaxed.