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Broadband: Sneak Peak at the National Plan and a Google Announcement

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The cogs of Washington policy making started a slow, creaky, post-snowpocalypse return to work this week. Congress was in recess but federal agencies were back in action. This week, in a speech to state utility regulators, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski offered a preview of some of what we can expect to see in the National Broadband Plan that he will present to Congress next month.

The plan was mandated by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Chairman Genachowski laid out some of the plan’s broad parameters with goals to be met by 2010 including:

  • Creating broadband access for 100 million households at 100 megabits per second
  • Increasing the U.S. broadband adoption rate from 65% to 90%
  • Ensuring that every child will be digitally literate by the time he or she leaves high school.
  • Transforming the Universal Service Fund- a fund established in 1934 with the goal to provide every American with traditional telephone service–and converting it over time to support broadband adoption.

The Chairman also identified a number of recommendations that the plan will contain including:

  • Improving the E-rate program–which makes Internet connections available in schools and libraries.
  • Modernizing the rural telemedicine program to connect rural medical clinics to the Internet
  • Deploying broadband to accelerate the development of a smart grid for delivering electricity
  • Developing public/private partnerships to increase Internet adoption and to ensure digital literacy for school aged children
  • Freeing up of wireless spectrum to increase access for licensed and unlicensed use
  • Using government rights of way and conduits to lower the cost of broandband build out

Also this week Google announced that it would partner with local communities to bring 1 gigabit per second broadband (a speed 100 times faster than what most American’s currently enjoy) to a small number of test locations. Along with the super-fast connection, Google promises to deliver the service with open internet principles intact.

So AG readers….do you think a national broaband plan is necessary? If so, what would you like to see it contain? What do you think about Google’s move? Will it help to bring innovation to internet services? Finally, the most important question, how long does it take four feet of snow to melt?

Photo credit: CharmcityGavin onFlickr

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Written By

Melanie is the Senior Technology Policy Representative at the National Association of Realtors. That means she lobbies Congress and Federal Agencies on technology policy issues of importance to the real estate industry. In her pre-NAR life Melanie has been a practicing attorney and a software start-up executive. Like any native Californian, Melanie loves good wine and bountiful farmers markets.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Ken Montville

    February 21, 2010 at 10:24 am

    1 gigabit per second! Be still, my heart. I’m not quite sure how speedier speeds becomes a game of diminishing returns but as the Web becomes more and more graphically intense and hi-def, the bandwidth will be welcome.

    As far as the National Plan. Smacks of Socialism (just kidding). 🙂

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      Ken,

      Its precisely the diminishing returns that Google is trying to address. Obviously, this is not a wholly benevolent move on their part–google benefits from faster speeds, more downloads, higher usage but IMHO its a good move for all internet users.

  2. Ralph Bell

    February 21, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Is that upstream or downstream speeds?

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      Ralph,

      Google’s announcement didn’t specify. I guess we’ll learn more as it is rolled out.

  3. Lani Rosales

    February 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I’m highly interested in the change of the Universal Service Fund as VOIP is less expensive than land lines these days anyhow, and frankly, the program needs to be updated.

    I like that the private sector (Google) is doing their part, but anything via Google feels just as Big Brothery as the U.S. Government stepping in, so I have mixed feelings.

    Regarding school children and their use, anything Internet related is an elective for our children and they have to fight to get into these classes, so funding toward that effort would be amazing (and the children need it as colleges now expect web proficiency).

    I support a national broadband plan but I fear how it will be executed, who will oversee it and which politicians will get their fingers in the mix that have no business doing so.

    Melanie, how does net neutrality play into this overall plan?

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 21, 2010 at 7:58 pm

      Lani–

      Technically the broadband plan and the net neutrality rules are moving on separate tracks but they are indeed related in many people’s minds (including, in my opinion, the FCC’s.) Notice that Google’s test project includes open internet (i.e. network neutrality) principles. I think Google intends to show the incumbent ISPs that faster internet can indeed be provided profitably with net neutrality principles in place. If they succeed, it should improve competition in the ISP market and be a good thing for consumers.

  4. MIssy Caulk

    February 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Well let’s hope they test it in Ann Arbor where they have their Ad-Words offices.

    But, have you been following the news this week on the school that gave out computers and were spying via web cams on the students. Now that is wrong.

  5. Melanie Wyne

    February 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Missy,

    The tests are determined by and RFP so, any interested community should apply. As for the school situation–I read headlines but am fuzzy on details so….no comment for the moment.

  6. Benn Rosales

    February 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I think Google is doing a good thing, the problem is, from a political perspective, they’re stepping on toes that have the financial backbone (pun intended) to really push back.

    • Melanie Wyne

      February 22, 2010 at 12:36 pm

      Benn,

      That’s the part I think is so interesting. From what I’ve been reading, folks don’t think that Google is interested in playing for the long term but instead merely wants to demonstrate that high speed broadband can be delivered cost effectively and with open internet principles intact. Perhaps to shame the incumbents or perhaps to encourage more competitors to enter the marketplace. It will certainly be interesting to watch.

  7. Ralph Bell

    February 22, 2010 at 12:55 pm

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