Discouraging commentary on progress of the National Broadband Plan

Tech Dirt’s Christopher Terry offers a discouraging look at the 2010 National Broadband Plan for Benton

Nov 18th, 2020 marked 3900 days since the Federal Communications Commission launched its heavily-hyped “National Broadband Plan.” 400 days ago, I penned an op-ed for the Benton Institute which assessed how the FCC had been unable to achieve any of the benchmarks or meet any of the six stated goals of the plan. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that another year didn’t fix very much of the shortcomings I identified then. …

While we can debate metrics when assessing successes and failures of the FCC’s policymaking, the events of the last eight months have put a spotlight on how important the FCC’s failure to achieve its goals has been. As millions of Americans were forced to go virtual for work and school the clear requirement for affordable universal broadband access has never been clearer.

His point is clear – we can debate about the numbers related to broadband accomplishments but the proof is on the frontlines. Did you have enough broadband to do the things you needed and wanted to do during the pandemic? Did you neighbors, friends cousins and clients? Did you lose your job because you couldn’t get online? Did you start a new business because you could? How are your kids accessing school? Are you all able to get to the tele-mental-health sessions you need?

I spoke to several Minnesota Counties about the role of broadband in their COVID plans. Broadband was a make or break and I heard all sorts of answers from counties where schools had to make paper packets for some students to offset lack of access and from counties that were able to move all public meetings online encouraging greater civic engagement. Whole communities are living different lives based on their broadband access.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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