WASHINGTON, August 5, 2009 —The FCC will cast a wide net in crafting a national broadband plan, Chairman Julius Genachowski told staff Wednesday during an “all-hands” open meeting in preparation for the first of several workshops on use cases for crafting the plan.
The commission is “looking for everyone’s ideas,” Genachowski said – and that the agency would seek input not only from within, but from as diverse a range of opinion as to include users of the Second Life online community. The FCC “town hall” meetings will be simulcast in Second Life, he confirmed.
But with the commission facing a deadline of February of next year, Genachowski acknowledged he is well aware that time is short, and with seven months to go there remains much to do, “The plan is unwritten,” he admitted in an interview following the meeting. But he is confident the FCC can meet its commitments by looking for “opportunities to move the plan forward” by any means.
Blair Levin, who joined the commission as a “broadband czar,” compared the national strategy to the E-Rate program established under the 1996 Telecommunications Act. “There ‘ain’t no mountain high enough’ to keep us from getting broadband to you,” he said to the popular song playing on the stereo at the end of the meeting.
Levin stressed the commission will use a “data-driven” process to create the plan, which will incorporate the myriad possibilities of ubiquitous broadband, including applications for public safety, telemedicine, education, and a smart electrical grid.
The plan is “not going to be an academic exercise,” said Brian David, who will oversee data collection on adoption and usage. FCC staffers are hungry for input. “If you have any infrastructure or economic data, please stop by my office,” said deployment director Rob Curtis.
The FCC workshops will be streamed live at http://broadband.gov, and viewers will be able to see presentations in WebEx as well as in Second Life. The first workshop begins Thursday, August 6 at 9:30 a.m. and will focus on open government and civic engagement.