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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: That all sounds great but...
By Mitch101 on 4/9/2009 12:18:29 PM , Rating: 0
I disagree the internet should be allowed to everyone not something for large greedy organizations to monopolize with price gouging. Maybe they havent price gouged or capped where you are yet but they certainly seem intent on bringing it everywhere since they seem to be getting away with it.

Much like you can put up a set of rabbit ears and get a TV signal you should be able to get an internet connection as well. Granted it may not be fibre optic speed but you should be able to get something without being forced into monopolistic corporations who charge you an additional fee if your not a cable subscriber.

By TheRagnarok on 4/9/2009 1:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
Well said.

RE: That all sounds great but...
By shin0bi272 on 4/9/2009 1:42:08 PM , Rating: 2
Thats not what he's saying... hes saying the government shouldnt be funding this with our tax dollars. Its not their job. Its the job of companies like time warner and verizon to increase their speeds to entice customers (time warner rolling out 40gb/mo [no thats not a typo] bandwidth caps) and make themselves money and the government should keep their fingers out of it. Their job is to protect us from invasion and insurrection (and now piracy) and keep our debt paid off... fail, fail, fail and fail.

RE: That all sounds great but...
By PhoenixKnight on 4/9/2009 2:30:04 PM , Rating: 4
The problem is that the companies have no need to entice customers because the customers have no alternative but to use them. Many areas of the country have a choice of 2 or 3 broadband providers at most. If you don't like Comcast's prices/service, for instance, your only other choice is often dial-up.

RE: That all sounds great but...
By sleepeeg3 on 4/13/2009 4:35:20 PM , Rating: 2
So if you don't like where you live, why don't you move?

RE: That all sounds great but...
By Regs on 5/17/2009 4:29:20 PM , Rating: 2
I want to jump through my monitor right now and strangle you.

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