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In Dallas, Rural Aspects of National Broadband Plan Discussed

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DALLAS, April 28, 2010 – There are a daunting number of rural American that do not have access to broadband, Rob Curtis, deployment director of the Federal Communication Commission’s omnibus broadband initiative, said at the Broadband Properties Summit here.

With 14 million Americans without access to broadband, or at least twelve-hundred feet from a fiber connection; Curtis tasked the FCC to finalize that number using various means of statistical data. The goal was to enable the distribution of first round broadband stimulus grants into the hands of applicants clamoring to build new infrastructure. His task included coming up with an economic model that realistically supported the best case scenario for economic viability.

That included projecting a take rate; a payback, and cost analysis. This analysis included both wireless and landline applications which looked at using incremental economics by adding to existing plant. The team created the plan using a Census block group, finding that cost curves varied widely based on density and captured the disincentives; meaning less density and the cost goes up. The plan was submitted on a conservative basis; he said there was no “pie in the sky” numbers built into the scenario.

Key Findings:

  • The costs rolled out at $24 Billion with an Net Present Value of zero, and reiterated that private companies would not enter with funding, since in most places, these entities have made money where it has been feasible.
  • He found that cost and gap curves converge, in that cost from density was the same as density from cost.
  • There are seven-million housing units not served, and more than have of the cost gap goes to 250,000 units which amounted to $14-billion and translates to a cost of $56,000 per household.

Since the release of the broadband plan, the FCC has created a “Notice of Inquiry” seeking comment on the statistical model as part of the larger National Broadband Plan. Curtis also pointed out the importance of the National Broadband Plan’s purposes and the potential effects on e-healthcare, education, energy, creating jobs, and being a green technology. He likened the plan with an analogy of subsidizing telephone companies to connect all Americans with telephone service.

The broadband seeks to connect us with applications that help our lives, with the will and commitment to step-up-to-the-plate with more than 200 recommendations.

The NTIA is helping with the data but will it be good enough? States are now getting involved to help map the terrain of where broadband is and where it is not. This input will be correlated into a national data base with continual updates and refinements.

In addressing speeds, Curtis indicated the average is close to 4 Megabits per second (Mbps). That 4 Mbps is consistent with application requirements. Other FCC goals are for 100 million households to be connected by 2010 with 100 MBps.

FCC Workshops to Cast Wide Net for Broadband Data, Use Cases

in Broadband Stimulus/FCC/National Broadband Plan/NTIA by

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.

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