WASHINGTON, March 15, 2010 – An executive summary of the Federal Communications Commission’s forthcoming National Broadband Plan drew near-unanimous praise from stakeholders on the eve of the full plan’s release, with industry groups, public interest advocates and lawmakers all weighing in positively as they became aware of the agency’s intentions.
While acknowledging there would be “points of disagreement” with the final plan, National Cable and Telecommunications Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow said the Commission report “makes a significant contribution to the dialogue” on a broadband strategy for the U.S.
“Chairman Genachowski and his staff working on the Omnibus Broadband Initiative should be commended for their efforts to draft a broadband ‘blueprint’ that surveys the technology landscape, that identifies industry progress to date and remaining policy challenges, and that suggests new ideas and reforms to advance our common goal of promoting investment, innovation, and broadband networks that are second to none,” McSlarrow said.
Representatives of the wireless broadband industry were equally supportive of the FCC’s approach to spectrum allocation in the report as their wireline comrades were with the report as a while.
“CTIA and our member companies are extremely pleased that spectrum is recognized as being pivotal to the National Broadband Plan,” said CTIA President Steve Largent. “We appreciate the FCC’s and the broadband team’s focus on making 500 MHz of spectrum for broadband within 10 years, of which 300 MHz should be made available for mobile use within five years.”
Equally pleased with the FCC’s report were a wide array of public interest advocates, some who have long pushed for a sweeping broadband plan. Public Knowledge co-founder Gigi Sohn called the plan “a balanced, comprehensive and forward-looking plan that should serve the country well.” The U.S. has long been in need of such a plan, Sohn said.
In particular, Sohn praised the Commission’s intent to review competition rules for wholesale broadband – as well as the proposed approach to a next-generation spectrum policy. “The spectrum policies proposed by the Commission, including greater use of unlicensed spectrum, also will help to drive innovation and consumer choice,” she said. “We commend the commission for starting down that path in a way that will benefit all Americans.”
Media Access Project CEO Andrew Schwartzman said the FCC “gets an A+ for delivering a vision that could bring low-cost, world-class high-speed Internet access to all communities, fostering competition and consumer choice in broadband services.”
But Schwartzman warned that “the real test begins now” and a “final grade” will depend on the FCC’s execution of proceedings to transform the plan into reality.
Lawmakers in both houses of Congress reacted positively to the FCC’s announcement as well. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said “Chairman Genachowski and the FCC are to be commended for producing this comprehensive and forward-looking report that touches on so many aspects of American society.”
The FCC’s plan will be “critically important” as Congress examines how to apply the “transformative power of broadband” to American society, Waxman said, adding the House Communications Subcommittee will hold its first hearing on the plan on March 25, 2010, and has invited all five FCC Commissioners to testify.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V. said he welcomed the FCC’s plan, and expressed relief that the FCC’s plan would keep the U.S. from becoming a “broadband backwater.”
“Broadband can remake our communications networks in our new century,” said Rockefeller. “But more than that, it can make a difference in people’s lives—change education, improve health care, shore up business and employment opportunities, and foster a new and more democratic dialogue.”