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FCC paints outline of broadband plan

Thu, 12/17/2009 - 7:35am
Brian Santo

The Federal Communications Commission released a summary of what the National Broadband Plan is likely to address. The FCC is obligated to submit its final plan in two months.

The country is going to have to take on the CableCard issue, as well as the associated concern about set-top innovation – or more to the point, the lack thereof.

The plan is also likely to include means of increasing broadband adoption. One option to be considered is likely to be the plan proposed by the NCTA earlier this month.

Another issue specifically mentioned in the FCC summary is pole attachment fees.

Another key element in the plan will be opening up more wireless spectrum to use for commercial wireless services.

The FCC stressed that it intends to encourage competition, and do so with a minimum of new laws and regulations.

Highlights of the framework, principles and preliminary options outlined by the task force report Wednesday included:

Set-top box options

Overview: Set-top box innovation is lacking. Improved boxes could be an important driver of broadband adoption and utilization.

• Addressing current shortfalls in implementation of CableCards to help create an open device market
• Requiring video services providers to supply a small, low-cost, network-interface device whose only function is to bridge proprietary network elements with retail navigation devices

Broadband adoption options

Overview: Adoption is increasing, but certain segments still lag the national average.

• Establishing a non-profit entity to support adoption efforts
• Facilitate public/private partnerships to increase adoption of broadband in the home
• Creating tax benefits for employers who pay for devices and connectivity for low-income non-adopters
• Developing digital literacy standards and support

Infrastructure options

Overview: Broadband infrastructure requires a partnership between the federal government and various state and local entities. Lowering the costs of infrastructure inputs improves the business case for further upgrades and sustainable competition.

• Setting uniform and fair rental rate for pole attachments
• Adopting rules that reduce costs and increase speed of access to poles, ducts, conduits and rights-of-way
• Enabling municipalities to create broadband options where circumstances warrant

Spectrum options

Overview: Demand for wireless broadband service will exceed the supply of spectrum in the not-too-distant future. A large, new spectrum allocation is essential to improving broadband competition.

• Resolving pending proceedings such as Advanced Wireless Services-3 (AWS-3) and Wireless Communications Services (WCS)
• Exploring various proposals that have been submitted, such as access to TV spectrum while maintaining over-the-air TV and access to federal spectrum, in conjunction with the NTIA
• Applying market forces to all bands while taking into consideration other policy objectives in allocation decisions
• Preserving spectrum for unlicensed devices
• Using spectrum more efficiently and conducting periodic reviews of uses

Transparency options

Overview: Consumer information about product attributes fosters a more competitive market but is lacking in broadband.

• Providing consumers with better information about actual performance of broadband services
• Developing a rating system to allow consumers to see the actual performance of broadband networks
• Creating a national broadband map in conjunction with the NTIA to provide a clearinghouse of broadband data and provide consumers with information about local broadband options

The document also includes outlines for dealing with broadband penetration among the disabled, public safety options, the Universal Service Fund and broadband on tribal lands.

More Broadband Direct 12/17/09:
•  Tru2way heads north to Vidéotron
•  Buckeye picks Spirent for in-home MoCA testing
•  Verizon bows world's 1st 10 Gbps PON field test
•  FCC paints outline of broadband plan
•  Levin: Spectrum important, but no timetable
•  Philly buys municipal Wi-Fi network
•  ST's set-top chip gets EuroDOCSIS certification
•  Ipitek improves Ethernet transport platform
•  Govt. awards stimulus funds for broadband
•  Review: Netbooks meet luxury in ultra-light Sony
•  Broadband Briefs for 12/17/09
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