The FCC is looking for comments as they prepare to create the National Broadband Plan. They are accepting comments through July 7 – so now’s a good time to speak up or forever hold your peace.
I notice that a few folks have spoken up. I’ve tried to highlight their comments below.
• Conduct a thorough review of the current state of the broadband market and the impact of past policies. Over the last decade, the FCC has not evaluated the broadband market to assess the real impact of its decisions on consumers. The FCC should produce an honest assessment of broadband deployment, develop a data-driven standard to identify local areas where providers are abusing their market power, and evaluate the impact of all past policies.
• Encourage broadband adoption through policies that increase competition. The FCC must move beyond availability. One of the main underlying barriers to broadband adoption is value — the speeds are too slow and the prices are too high. The national broadband plan should focus on the policies that spur the deployment of high-capacity networks and drive down consumer costs.
• Treat broadband as infrastructure. President Barack Obama recently said that America’s digital infrastructure is “the backbone that underpins a prosperous economy and a strong military and an open and efficient government.” The FCC should prioritize policies that promote next-generation networks, ensuring that commercial market failures do not result in weakening the nation’s economic foundation.
• Protect the open Internet through strong Net Neutrality rules. The economic and social value of broadband is derived from the content and services it delivers. The FCC should expand and codify the “Internet Policy Statement” into permanent Net Neutrality rules. The FCC should also reverse the decision to classify broadband Internet access service as a pure information service, which would allow the agency to reinstate open access rules where appropriate.
As you can see they hold no punches. I think it’s a strong document imploring/demanding the FCC to not look backwards but to rethink how policy is made in the future.
The Rural Internet and Broadband Policy Group also recently submitted comments. I wasn’t able to fin theirs online but Amalia Deloney kindly gave me permission to share here.
The do a good job of condensing their points for rural America:
1. Communication is a fundamental human right.
2. Rural America is diverse.
3. Local ownership and investment in community is the priority.
4. Network neutrality and open access are vital.
All points are important but I really like the emphasis on local ownership and investment. We have heard of some innovative local providers who have done a great job for their community; we have heard frustration from communities who don’t have local control. To that end, the Group promotes “meaningful engagement of local jurisdictions”. They also promote ambitious speeds.
They do a good job of pointing out why a policy that addresses rural issues is important to the country as a whole and offering suggesting for a refurbished universal service fund that could start to address the costs associated with bringing broadband to rural areas.
I think that there are some points (such as encouraging employers to let employees use broadband at work for personal tasks) that will require people to think about things differently. But I like that! I think it’s time to recognize that the lines of work and personal are blurring (or have blurred). Sometimes that’s good for the employer; sometimes it benefits the employee. I’m not sure where I stand on how policy should dictate these shifts – but I would love to hear the conversation and I would love to hear how civic participation fits into it. I think the Rural Internet and Broadband Policy Group opens up those doors.
The American Farm Bureau also filed comments. They are succinct – we need affordable broadband because “To be
economically viable, rural areas need access to health care, government services, educational and business opportunities. For many rural communities access can only be gained by using broadband services and sophisticated technologies that require high speed connections.”
Even Japan got into the mix offering suggestions based on their experience. To start off with they talk about their National Broadband Plan from 2001. (Doesn’t that make us feel like the last kid on the block to ride a bike!) Their goal was to become “the world’s leading IT-oriented nation by 2005”. I love that strive to be excellent, not mediocre!
I won’t go into detail but they do – when it comes to how they opened facilities to encourage broadband development in a fair competitive environment. (Another key – their ongoing focus on broadband.)
So as you see – the FCC is hearing from people, interesting people with strong opinions. And again now is the time to throw in your two cents.