FCC task force outlines steps to expand broadband

In order to expand broadband Internet access in the U.S., limited public funding should be used to leverage private investment in the technology, according to a task force interim report presented to the Federal Communications Commission today.

The National Broadband Plan task force presented a framework for action and some preliminary recommendations 63 days before a final plan is to be submitted to Congress on Feb. 17, 2010. In short, the plan seeks to build upon existing assets and programs to increase broadband penetration to, eventually, all Americans.

Among the task force’s key points:

  • The task force called for changes to the Universal Service Fund, created in 1997 to expand advanced telecommunications services, to focus on broadband adoption.
  • Warned of a shortage of available spectrum for broadband services and promoted a number of initiatives to increase supply.
  • Urged cooperation between federal, state and local governments to lower the cost of infrastructure, such as access to poles, ducts, conduits and rights-of way.
  • Increase consumer awareness of the benefits of broadband access.

“Encouragement of competition will be a guiding principle of the plan, since competition drives innovation and provides consumer choice,” the task force stated.