The Federal Communications Commission is recommending the federal government provide incentives to increase the adoption and effective use of broadband in a range of endeavors that would support other U.S. goals in health care, education, business productivity and public safety, among other concerns.
FCC representatives, including Chairman Julius Genachowski, have been providing preliminary information about the plan all week. A new document outlines several proposals, which include support for:
- Aiding small businesses in using broadband tools
- Upgrading medical IT systems and encouraging “e-care”
- Improving access speeds in schools
- Supporting online learning; integrating with Smart Grid programs
- Encouraging greater federal adoption of broadband
- Creating an interoperable nationwide broadband wireless public safety network
The federal government itself is a key customer of broadband services but lags in adoption. The FCC recommends greater adoption by federal organizations; in smaller communities, federal buildings should act as “anchor tenants” – the big customer that justifies investment in broadband infrastructure by local service providers.
Earlier this week, Genachowski said he’d like to see 100 Mbps service commonly available by 2020, with a goal of 90 percent of U.S. households getting broadband by that date.
The FCC is still formulating National Broadband policy; a completed version of its plan is not due until mid-March.
NCTA President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow issued a statement free of the diplomatically phrased caveats that have marked commentary on previous FCC announcements about elements of proposed policy, suggesting the cable industry is inclining toward supporting the plan as it is shaping up.
McSlarrow said: “The FCC’s broadband team deserves enormous credit for their effort to identify key national priorities and achievable goals that will improve America’s economic welfare and enhance basic government and societal services that millions of citizens rely on. The key challenges and opportunities outlined today all recognize how critical broadband is and will continue to be to ensure the U.S. remains competitive in key economic and societal sectors.”
Motorola, which has supplied the government with public safety communications systems for decades, issued a statement supporting the public safety provisions of the plan.
Motorola co-CEO Greg Brown said, “Public safety must have the resources necessary to deploy and operate a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network capable of meeting the unique needs of first responders.”