2009: The FCC Finally Makes A Broadband Plan

Written by John. Posted in Blog

According to an FCC announcement, the FCC will finally start developing a national broadband strategy this week, after more than a decade of assuming we didn’t need one. That assumption resulted in the United States’ mediocre global showing when it comes to speed, penetration, competition and price, with Americans paying more, for less — than more than a dozen developed countries.

Since any useful plan would increase competition and therefore reduce revenues, carriers are lobbying against substantive changes or tough rules of any kind. The FCC’s new broadband plan is expected to take about a year to complete, and will explore all options — including a government subsidized broadband network, network neutrality protections, improved broadband mapping, and a higher standard (than 768kbps) for what we consider broadband.

Developing a working, useful plan may be the easy part. After (and while) it’s being cooked up it will run through a gauntlet of K-Street telecom lobbyists — some of the best in any business. That’s where the real test occurs.

As we’ve noted, the problem with getting a real broadband plan in place certainly hasn’t been a shortage of ideas — we’ve seen an endless flood of industry round tables at which a myriad of techno-celebrities and Ivy League pundits offer their insight into the best possible course of action. The problem has been that telecom lobbyists have such a tight grip on DC, truly consumer-friendly policy never survives the incubation period.

It’s not clear the “new” FCC will be any less beholden to carrier lobbyists. One thing you can be sure of, if lobbyists are running this show, you’ll see the FCC very quickly throw their wholesale support behind a program called Connected Nation, which consumer advocates argue is little more than a sophisticated con cooked up by the nation’s largest carriers, and dressed up as a real national broadband policy