Originally published: July 10, 2010
Last updated: July 10, 2010 - 4:26pm
In questions to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, Sens Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Mark Begich (D-AK) asked if why the new National Broadband Plan sets such apparently modest goals for the US as 4Mbps universal service by 2020. And Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) wanted to know why urban areas were targeted with 100Mbps connections while rural areas looked likely to end up with the minimum 4Mbps. "How will you structure the policies to meet these goals in a way that doesn't exacerbate the existing digital divide?"
Chairman Genachowski says, "The Plan's universalization targets of 4Mbps download and 1Mbps upload [are] aggressive. It is one of the highest universalization targets of any country in the world. Many nations, such as South Korea and Finland, adopted short-term download targets around 1Mbps. The Plan recommends reevaluting the 4Mbps target every year so this target may rise over time, which will ensure that Americans continue to receive high quality broadband access at an affordable rate, and that consumers in rural areas will continue to receive broadband service that is reasonably comparable to the service provided in urban areas." He made the further point that "median speed of broadband service purchased by consumers today is 4Mbps." We're not quite sure what the point of this claim is, as it basically suggests that rural residents could be 10 years behind in 2020. And the comparisons to countries like Finland are misleading. Yes, the Finns have set a 1Mbps minimum for universal service, but that goal takes effect this year, not in 2020. Likewise, Spain has adopted a 1Mbps minimum, but it takes effect in 2011. Fortunately, the 4Mbps is a minimum, and the FCC commits to "revisiting that target every four years and adjusting it as circumstances change."
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