Originally published: March 18, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:37am
"Everyone in the United States today should have access to broadband services supporting a basic set of applications that include sending and receiving e-mail, downloading Web pages, photos and video, and using simple video conferencing," opens the chapter of the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan titled "Availability."
What would that mean in terms of performance?
"An initial universalization target of 4Mbps of actual download speed and 1Mbps of actual upload speed, with an acceptable quality of service for interactive applications, would ensure universal access," the NBP says. The document calls this the "National Broadband Availability Target."
But how do we get there, given the agency's estimate that 100 million Americans do not have broadband at home?
The NBP's most prominent answer is to recommend an additional infusion of $24 billion in public support to supplement private investment in broadband infrastructure over the next decade. The much more complex half of the plan is to do battle with that vast mess which is the government's Universal Service Fund (USF) and Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) programs. These huge deployments ($8.7 billion in funding for USF this year) subsidize rural and poor telephone subscribers across the country, but wastefully so, and they don't require or even encourage providers to offer broadband. So the strategy of the NBP is to gradually sweep the illogic of USF and ICC out and bring in new, broadband-oriented support systems.
The Plan says it can get this done in ten years. Here's how.
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