Like many policy wonks, technology leaders, advocacy groups, and just plain interested citizens, we’ve been looking forward to February 17, when the Federal Communications Commission was scheduled to submit the National Broadband Plan to Congress. Given the mammoth task the FCC was assigned by Congress, they’ve asked Congress for another month to complete the plan. We support that.
The team preparing the plan, working under the leadership of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the direction of Blair Levin since mid-summer, has made a heroic effort to assemble data and points of view on the state of broadband in America and where things are headed. They’ve held more than 40 workshops on broadband topics in Washington and around America – real workshops with a wide range of viewpoints and serious questions and analysis — and they’ve solicited public comment on over two dozen distinct issues in the last six months. They’ve opened up a website dedicated to exchanging ideas with the general public. It is just about inconceivable that anyone who cares at all about these issues could say they haven’t had a chance to weigh in.
The Commission has built a huge record and it’s a lot to digest. And all of this data and information could potentially lead to a lot of distractions. But signals from Chairman Genachowski and Blair Levin are that the Commission still has its eyes on the prize: how do we get more Americans to make broadband part of their lives, how do we make sure that investment in broadband (especially wireless, where we’re in a national spectrum crunch) keeps progressing, and how do we make the most of broadband to propel economic growth and social advancement.
At Comcast, we’ve given a lot of our time and attention to the Broadband Task Force’s efforts, providing expert witnesses, data, and our best creative thinking on many of the subjects at the center of the Plan. Just this week, the FCC received additional and important input from the Department of Justice and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, both significant contributions to the record. If one more month means that the National Broadband Plan will be of the best possible quality and a real blueprint for how we address the nation’s true broadband priorities – getting broadband everywhere and getting everyone possible on broadband – then it’s worth the wait.