The National Broadband Coalition released a report that outlines the findings of an 18-month study that brought together more than 160 members to discuss the future of a national broadband strategy.
The report discusses national broadband goals and offers policy options to stimulate broadband adoption, use and build-out.
The coalition represents more than 160 organizations, including large and small communications providers of all kinds, high technology companies, manufacturers, labor unions, educational institutions, utilities, consumer groups, public interest organizations, units of state and local government, and other stakeholders.
The report set target goals for broadband speeds and coverage. Wireless targets, which the report notes were set to “focus the discussion,” were pegged at 95 percent coverage at 1 to 10 Megabits per second by 2020.
According to the report, cost is one of the biggest issues surrounding the extension of service to “unserved” and “underserved” areas. The authors are hopeful that satellite and wireless technologies, including LTE and WiMAX, could help reduce the cost of deployment to rural America.
Members of the wireless industry said they need additional spectrum for reallocation to licensed commercial mobile use. Wireless players also called for the FCC to lower barriers to infrastructure deployment by “clarifying the process for review of wireless facility siting, and by enacting requirements that would give wireless providers reasonable, timely and nondiscriminatory access to pole attachments.”
Other members of the coalition believe that no such barriers exist and oppose any changes to the current tower and pole attachment rules.
The Commission said that the main value of its effort may lie in the “good-faith, constructive engagement” that came about from the discourse. In particular, the authors said that considerable progress was made in understanding how and why members disagree on important issues surrounding a national broadband policy.
Disagreements on how to proceed are numerous. The FCC’s recent moves to enact net neutrality rules and protect competition have angered wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The carriers maintain that fixed and wireless broadband networks are entirely different entities and should be allowed to manage the health of their networks in different ways.