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FCC lays the ground work to dig the U.S. out of the broadband backwater

The U.S. is one of the most advanced and wealthy countries in the world, yet when it comes to broadband access in more rural areas of the country we lag well behind other nations. Citizens in the UK have access to better broadband speeds, as do other countries.

Here in America we are stuck with peak speeds for broadband in many areas that are but a fraction of the lowest speeds seen in other countries. This week the Australian government announced a sweeping plan that would see the investment of billions in government funds to build a nationwide fiber optic broadband network serving 90% of the homes in the country.

Wired reports that the U.S. government is now in talks to develop a national broadband plan. The FCC has been betting on the vacated analog wireless spectrum currently used by TV broadcast to deliver broadband to most homes in the country. The big issue with that plan is that the major winners, AT&T and Verizon, are notorious for strapping such low bandwidth caps on their offerings as to make them unusable to many.

Wired reports that the FCC has a year to survey the nation's internet infrastructure and recommend a plan either to start building a nationwide network or to leave things as they are. President Obama has a nationwide network in mind, as evidenced by the $7.2 billion that was allocated to extend broadband to underserved rural areas.

As often happens in the U.S. government, rather than action and progress the funds have been stuck in a debate over what “underserved and rural” actually defines. The AFP reports that the FCC is seeking input from industry, business, non-profits, and governments federal, state, and local. The different entities have until February 17, 2010 to report to Congress.

Among the aspects the plan is said to be considering are broadband supply and demand; quality and affordability; and problems, threats, or vulnerabilities to the proposed network. Also being examined is how broadband will affect civic participation, public safety, homeland security, community developments, health care delivery, energy independence, and education.

FCC Chairman Michael Copps said, "Today, we commence a national dialogue on how we as a nation can make high-speed broadband available, affordable and easily useable to citizens and businesses throughout the land. This Commission has never, I believe, received a more serious charge than the one to spearhead development of a national broadband plan."

The AFP reports that America trails Japan, Sweden, South Korea, France, Germany, and Canada in broadband quality and subscription rates per capita. One of the key elements under discussion is the speed of the network. Median speeds for broadband access in the U.S. are under 5 Mbps whereas median speeds in Japan are 63 Mbps and in South Korea it's 49 Mbps.

The FCC defines broadband today as connections offering at least 786 Kbps. However, groups such as the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) are seeking speeds on the network of between 10 Mbps and 50 Mbps.

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RE: Speeds we should have access to...
By Silverel on 4/9/2009 11:13:39 AM , Rating: 4
I'd like to recommend a 6 for this gentleman. Best plan I've heard in a long time.

RE: Speeds we should have access to...
By quiksilvr on 4/9/2009 2:37:00 PM , Rating: 3
How DO people get a 6? I got one a long time ago and for the life of me can't figure out why it happens. Once someone gets a 5, you can't rate it higher.

Unless it's like he/she started at a 2 and then went up to a 4 but then someone rated him/her down to a 3 but then was rated back up to a 5. Since that person got rated down once, they can't get a 6. Is that how it works? You have to be continuously voted up to a 6 with no down rates? Or do the authors head hurts.

RE: Speeds we should have access to...
By GaryJohnson on 4/9/2009 3:44:57 PM , Rating: 5
Or do the authors decide


RE: Speeds we should have access to...
By tastyratz on 4/9/2009 4:02:09 PM , Rating: 3

Only Kristopher can give people a 6, and its usually only for exceptionally radiant posts.

RE: Speeds we should have access to...
By AstroCreep on 4/9/2009 4:22:49 PM , Rating: 4
Only Kristopher can give people a 6, and its usually only for exceptionally radiant posts.

The posts that make him LOL, anyway.

By KristopherKubicki on 4/10/2009 8:32:24 AM , Rating: 3

RE: Speeds we should have access to...
By dastruch on 4/9/2009 5:36:46 PM , Rating: 1
you should be rated down for this one :)

By maverick85wd on 4/10/2009 5:48:32 PM , Rating: 2
why? He posed a good question, I was wondering how it happened myself.

By callmeroy on 4/10/2009 7:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
That would be great, but its very very easy to type up what SHOULD be done in a 10 second post on a forum, than for it to actually happen both financially, and labor wise --- so I wouldn't count on it.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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