NEW YORK (AP) – The Federal Communications Commission is launching its effort to encourage the expansion of high-speed Internet connections in the country.

The FCC was ordered to create such a plan as part of the economic stimulus package passed this year.

At an open meeting in Washington today, the Commission put out a request for comments from the public and industry. The FCC will assemble its plan by next February.

During the Bush administration, Democrats and Internet advocates called on the government to take a more hands-on approach to speed adoption of broadband. Internet service providers, meanwhile, have stressed that freedom from regulation gives them incentive to invest.

In some ways, the FCC is late to the broadband party, according to The Wall Street Journal (story here). And by the time the FCC creates its plan for broadband, it is likely that Internet service providers will have claimed much of the $7.2 billion in stimulus funds set aside to build high-speed networks without major input from the agency, reports The Washington Post (click here).

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