The FCC received over 500 comments this week with all kinds of advice for its National Broadband Plan. Among those comments were a lot of thoughtful proposals that should help the FCC in its efforts to fashion a National Broadband Plan that works. Here are some ideas that really stand out:
Drs. Robert Hahn and Scott Wallsten at the Technology Policy Institute urged that any policies the FCC may adopt must be technology neutral, stressing that cable’s DOCSIS 3.0 technology, fiber, and broadband wireless can all meet consumers’ needs.
One Economy, a nonprofit organization that helps deliver technology and information to low-income individuals, urged that the Plan should create incentives to promote availability, affordability, and adoption, and "develop a regulatory framework that protects capital investment, encourages competition, and rewards innovation."
Many organizations echoed One Economy’s call for government to focus on breaking down barriers to getting more Americans online. Common Sense Media, a group committed to "digital citizenship," said that government should invest in Digital Literacy programs that "will build awareness of the benefits of broadband, the Internet and digital technology, while also addressing parent and teacher concerns about the potential dangers of the digital media world."
And a report filed by a remarkable coalition of diversity organizations, including the National Urban League, NCLR (aka National Council of La Raza), the Asian American Justice Center, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council summed up the goal of broadband adoption this way: "life with broadband is no longer a luxury, but is essential to the ability to participate meaningfully in society."
Even a group with whom we frequently disagree, an activist organization called Free Press, made a very good point about the need to take a fresh look at traditional "universal service" subsidies (which were originally intended to keep phone service affordable for all Americans) and to shift now to a new, smarter system of subsidies intended to get all Americans into the broadband age.
It was gratifying to see the large number of comments - from our broadband competitors, industry organizations, diversity groups, think tanks, and others - that repeated themes that we talked about in our recent posts: the need to get broadband Internet service to every corner of the nation in an efficient manner; the need to get every American online; and the need to promote private investment in broadband and avoid regulatory policies that chill investment and innovation. There is clearly a lot of common ground on these overarching goals, and that should help the FCC in framing its National Broadband Plan.